01 July 1999

RETAIL GIANT Arcadia [formerly the Burton Group] has launched Zoom, an online shopping mall - the first such retailer-owned venture in the UK. On offer are goods ranging from cars to de-signer fashion, electrical items to music. In addition to its own high street brands (Principles, Top Shop, Dorothy Perkins and Hawkshead), the Arcadia site also features other well known names - Auto Trader, Red or Dead, HMV, Books Online and Expedia, the Microsoft-owned online travel agency. The general razzamatazz includes prize draws, news, sport, entertainment services and financial advice. Cyber-malls have yet to enjoy commercial success in this country, with two earlier attempts by Barclays Bank and NatWest failing to gain popular support. But Arcadia is likely to have learned from their mistakes - as well as from Dixons’ success with FreeServe. Free internet access is an integral part of Arcadia’s package, with the software available instore at all its high street outlets [with the side benefit of generating the retail trade’s Holy Grail - additional footfall].