Net bookshop raises cash to take on rivals

Oxford-based company The Internet Bookshop, thought to be the second largest Internet book retailer in the world, has raised 1m through a share issue to develop its online merchandising services.

Shares will be dealt on OFEX, a share dealing facility operated by market maker JP Jenkins. The money raised is aimed at maintaining the company’s lead over domestic high street booksellers which have Internet sites.

Although the offer document notes the sites developed by book retailing rivals Blackwell, Dillons and Waterstones in the UK, it claims it can continue to lead the field in offering UK and European titles on the Net, and identifies US-based Amazon as its largest online competitor.

“Waterstones, Dillons, and Blackwell may be big brands in this country, but we all start from an even standing when it comes to marketing over the Internet abroad,” says chairman Simon Preston.

IBS, which exports four-fifths of its sales, is anticipating a fourfold increase in sales over the coming year. It sold just under 7,500 books in January, registering 19 per cent compound growth in monthly sales from May to December 1996, according to the offer document.

“We want this float now because we know there’s going to be a battle ahead,” says Preston. “We are one of two major players, so it makes sense to go for it now. We must look at improving our interactive sales. That means looking at things like professional sectors, and developing our databases and foreign language services. It all costs money.”

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