BT in talks with Dixons over retail sell-off

BT has been in talks with Dixons about the possible sale of its 90-strong retail division.

BT’s head of retail Paul Collis, who joined the company in June last year, is leaving at the end of the month and sources say a sale of its stores to Dixons has been discussed.

Dixons already has a relationship with BT through its Link stores, where telephones are sold with the offer of a BT service.

BT and Dixons both deny discussions are imminent over a sale and neither would comment further.

At the same time, BT is planning a dramatic expansion of its marketing budget to 180m for the financial year beginning April 1, primarily to fend off increased competition threatened by cable operators.

Sixty per cent of this budget, which works out at 3.5m a week, is ear-marked for above-the-line advertising. BT’s so-called Cable Defence Unit has been renamed Win Back (MW March 22).

BT is starting its financial year with a major TV and direct marketing campaign to push its Friends & Family discount scheme. BT has reduced the one-off joining fee and doubled the scheme’s discount to ten per cent.

The TV drive, through Abbott Mead Vickers.BBDO, is being backed by a customer mailing to 13 million households. This is the mailing developed by a US agency, under the eye of BT consultant Ed Carter who chose not to use BT’s incumbent direct marketing agency, Ogilvy & Mather Direct (MW March 1).

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