Brafilm purchase takes Video Island into Europe

Video Island, the UK online DVD rental service, has made its first move into Europe, with the acquisition of Scandinavian rental company Brafilm for an undisclosed sum.

Brafilm is the biggest player in Sweden and Norway with 25,000 subscribers, bringing Video Island’s total subscription base to 150,000. Simon Calver, who took over as chief executive of Video Island in July (MW July 14), says/ “Brafilm is a well-established and respected player in Scandinavia and has valuable partnerships including MSN, TV4 in Sweden, TV2 in Norway and Coop. The acquisition provides a solid base for us to expand across Europe.”

Calver – an ex-Pepsi marketer responsible for the UK launch of Pepsi Max – adds that Brafilm offers huge operational and marketing opportunities while providing the company’s first footprint outside the UK.

The Brafilm purchase follows the earlier UK acquisitions of DVDs365 in June this year and ScreenSelect.co.uk in August 2004. Earlier this year, Video Island raised an additional &£5m in venture capital funding, taking the total raised to &£15m.

In the UK, Video Island handles almost 2 million DVD shipments a month, which Calver says is equivalent to 300 high street stores.

Launched in September 2003, Video Island operates via partnerships between its Screen Select brand and companies such as Boots, Comet, Virgin Megastore, Top Up TV, Toys R Us, Dixons, Currys, Real Networks (RNWK) and Radio Times, as well as by supplying “white label” DVD subscription services for national brands such as Tesco, ITV and MSN.

Last week, Video Island founder Saul Klein – who stepped back from the day-to-day running of the business when Simon Calver was appointed – was named marketing director of internet telephony company Skype, which has been bought by Ebay for up to $4.1bn (&£2.3bn).

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