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Last Updated: Friday, 4 June, 2004, 13:56 GMT 14:56 UK
Stelios to sell flagship net cafe
Stelios Haji-Ioannou at an Easyinternet cafe
Stelios is trying to focus the business on smaller sites
Easyjet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou has put his flagship internet cafe in central London on the market.

In a statement, he said he would also be reviewing the situation of his other four Easyinternet cafes in the capital.

Mr Haji-Ioannou added that he had been advised he could make a profit from the sale of the lease on the Oxford Street store, which has 300 computers.

The company confirmed that the closure of the store was a move toward focusing on less expensive, smaller sites.

The Greek entrepreneur is looking to cut his losses from the internet business he launched five years ago in a blaze of publicity.

'Expensive' move

At the time, he predicted that the offer of cheap, fast internet access would bring Londoners flocking to his stores.

However, with the advent of ever-cheaper broadband access, more and more people now have high-speed internet links to their home computers.

Mr Haji-Ioannou, who two years ago said the business was back on track, has previously admitted that the venture was "the most expensive of my career."

The company's accounts show the business has lost 96m since it was created.

The large London sites - which also include Tottenham Court Road, Trafalgar Square, High Street Kensington and Victoria -are all prime real estate sites.

Reports suggest the sites will soon follow the Oxford Street branch and go up for sale, along with branches in Edinburgh, Manchester and Glasgow.

However, a spokesman for Easygroup said there were no immediate plans to close its other UK megastores.

Branching out

In his statement, Mr Haji-Ioannou said the four remaining London stores would be reviewed "from time to time as the property market hots up".

He told the Press Association: "We do not want to be in the property business, we want to be in internet access business."

In an effort to stem losses from the internet venture, Mr Haji-Ioannou is now offering franchise licences on various sites across Europe and New York.

He has also opted to focus on smaller sites which share premises with other consumer-facing businesses such as Sainsbury's, McDonalds or the Post Office.

In recent months he has branched out into the cruise business, hotel sector and bus travel.

However, most of his no-frills ventures - such as Easycinema - have failed to live up to the success of Easyjet, the budget airline he founded.

Just last year, he was also forced to inject a further 11m into his Easycar rental business.




SEE ALSO:
Easyjet founder lands cruise ship
16 Apr 04  |  Business
Now Easyjet founder targets buses
23 Nov 03  |  Business
Easyjet sees annual profits drop
18 Nov 03  |  Business
Easycinema 'future in doubt'
26 Jun 03  |  Entertainment
Easycar faces court battle
29 Jul 03  |  Business


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