01 July 1999

UP TO £50 MILLION is to be ploughed by Littlewoods Home Shopping division into a major brand consolidation. Over the next eighteen months, the catalogue giant will merge its agency-sales brands - Peter Craig, Brian Mills, Janet Frazer, John Moores and Burlington - into two Littlewoods-branded titles with a total annual distribution of three million copies. At the same time, the group’s retail catalogue operation Index will be rebranded Littlewoods Index. According to group chief executive Barry Gibson, the move is driven by market research indications that the group’s core market of lower-income families still regard the name Littlewoods as a powerful brand. ‘Our customers say that the name has great trust, integrity and value’, says Gibson. The two consolidated catalogues will differ: one offering credit facilities, the other lower prices without credit. In the year to 30 April, Littlewoods’ catalogue busi-nesses contributed £84m in operating profits on sales of £946m, boosting group pre-tax profits to £144m - down from the preceding year’s £191m which included an exceptional profit of £132m.