Barclay bros buy up Handbag.com

The Barclay brothers, owners of the Telegraph Group, have taken over women’s lifestyle website Handbag.com, previously a joint venture with retailer Boots.

The sale of Boots’ 50 per cent stake in the website was completed on March 17, but the deal is being announced today (Wednesday).

The website will now be added to Press Holdings’ brand portfolio, which includes The Spectator, The Business, The Scotsman, Scotsman.com and Apollo. The website’s managing director, Nancy Cruickshank, will report to Press Holdings chief executive and editor-in-chief Andrew Neil.

The acquisition comes as Handbag.com announces record readership figures of 986,695 unique users (Audit Bureau of Circulations audit, January 2005) – an increase of 13 per cent since the last audit, in January 2004.

When Handbag.com was set up in 1999, ownership was split equally between Hollinger (then owner of the Telegraph Group) and Boots.

The Telegraph’s share passed to the Barclays brothers on their acquisition of the newspaper group.

A spokesman for Boots says that the joint venture was not part of its core business.

Handbag.com is among the ten most recognised internet brands, according to Ocean Consulting’s third annual media brands study.

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