US retailer eToys launches Website in first UK venture

Online toy retailer eToys is to venture outside the US for the first time by launching a UK Website this autumn. The company, which has &£19m a year sales through a US Website set up in October 1997, has timed the launch to coincide with Christmas. Children will be able to post Christmas “wish-lists” on the site, with goods express delivered from a new 25,000 sq ft warehouse in Swindon. The company plans to use the UK toys sector, worth &£3.5bn a year, as a “beachhead” for an assault on the European market. Toby Lenk, eToys’ president and chief executive officer, says: “Our UK launch will enable us to bring to this market the same combination of superior selection and customer service that has made us the gold standard in children’s retail in the US.” James Bidwell, former marketing director of secondhand car retailer Carland, has been appointed director of European marketing to steer the launch. He is joined by Janine Schueppert from video games publisher Activision, who becomes UK marketing manager. Before Carland, Bidwell, a former account handler at Lowe Howard-Spink, worked for games specialist Sega, where he was head of marketing for Segaworld at London’s Trocadero. Bidwell is understood to be talking to advertising and media buying agencies. EToys appointed Publicis & Hal Riney in August as its incumbent ad agency in the US. The company, which floated on the Nasdaq US stock market in May, reported net sales for its first fiscal quarter (to June 30) as a publicly traded company of $8m. The company recorded a net loss of $20.8m.

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