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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 October, 2004, 16:50 GMT 17:50 UK
Google launches Froogle in the UK
The Google campus, AP
Google is keen to capitalise on the UK's love of online shopping
US internet giant Google has launched its shopping price comparison website Froogle in the UK, putting it head to head with rivals such as Kelkoo.

Froogle helps shoppers in cyberspace find the goods they want by displaying photos of products requested by the user and offering them links to stores.

The UK expansion follows Google's $1.67bn (927m) flotation in August.

Online shopping has taken off in the UK, with shoppers expected to spend 17bn online this year.

Shoppers flock

Figures from research group NOP suggest that some 10% of all purchases in the UK are now made online.

Google says it already has 'hundreds' of merchants signed up to provide goods through the service, now live at www.froogle.co.uk.

Unlike some e-commerce search sites, Froogle is free to both retailers as well as buyers.

Google makes its money from selling text ads linked to search terms that appear alongside search results.

"We developed Froogle UK so that online shoppers could quickly and easily locate the products they are looking for, from the most obscure to the most popular," said Cosmos Nicolaou, engineering director at Google.

Friendly rivals?

Despite making inroads into the UK shopping market, Google claims it is keen not to step on rival Kelkoo's toes in Europe.

Paris-based Kelkoo, bought by Yahoo for $589m, is one of Europe's fastest growing e-commerce sites.

While the company admitted it was considering expansion into France and Germany, it said there was no time frame for stepping on Kelkoo's turf.

Indeed, Kelkoo is one of Google's largest advertisers and the company claims it wants to maintain close ties with rivals.

"As far as we're concerned, we'd be happy to show Kelkoo's listings," said Mr Nicolaou.

Froogle's service in the US has online rival Amazon.com and Yahoo's shopping service among its retail partners.

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