Littlewoods plc is one of the UK's
leading retail companies with retail sales of some £2.5 billion,
the second largest home shopping business and the third largest
clothing retailer. Littlewoods have promised to take the lead in
selling more on-line than any other UK retailer over the next five
years. Since November 1999 Littlewoods has introduced 4 websites:
www.shop-i.co.uk, www.indexshop.com, www.indexextra.com, and Littlewoods-online.com.
Recently, Littlewoods and AOL UK signed a joint marketing and distribution
agreement. Littlewoods (the agreement covers all 275 Littlewoods
stores as well as the Index Extra and Littlewoods Catalogue Club
home shopping channels) are to provide in-store and catalogue distribution
of software for AOL UK's new AOL FLAT RATE unmetered Internet access
plan. Also, Littlewoods will distribute a specifically co-branded
version of AOL UK's subscription-free service. In return, AOL UK
will promote Littlewoods' product ranges including clothing and
home furnishing goods across AOL's multiple online brands.
Littlewoods' also has a number of other joint ventures, including
Dial Home Shopping, Shop!, Costco UK, Centreville Holdings, and
Littlewoods Personal Finance (with the Woolwich) all of which are
in the start-up phases, thus incurring costs of £7.3 million. It
is, of course, well known for its betting services, Littlewoods
Pools under the umbrella of Littlewoods Leisure which too is progressing
into telephone and internet services. The gaming site, www.bet247.com,
has had 25 million hits and is gaining 1000 new customers each week
from all over the world.
In the financial year to April 2000 retail sales were 3% lower
at £1,895m than the previous year. The clothing sector was deemed
responsible for this. In particular, consumers' unabated demand
for low price clothes, new types of retail competition and the growing
penetration of Far East imports due to the strength of sterling.
However, continued progress in developing Littlewoods Retail as
an integrated operation as saved over £30m in 1999/00.