Regulator OKs Barclay Twins' GUS Home Shopping Buy

26 January 2004

Sir Frederick and Sir David Barclay are rarely out of the (unwelcome) limelight these days. But this time the glare of publicity is not due to their recent high profile compact with a flailing ex-Canuck member of Britain's House of Lords.

The reclusive Barclay knights have again been thrust into prominence with news that their £590 million ($1077.8m; €856.83m) acquisition of the ailing GUS Home Shopping division -- Britain's largest catalogue sales operation -- has been approved by the nation's Competition Commission.

This was granted despite the duo's ownership of the rival Littlewoods retail and mail order operations, handing the Barclays overwhelming dominance of the UK catalogue mail order market.

There was also a conspicuous PR tradeoff for the governmental green light. Littlewoods has agree to repatriate the two hundred a fifty call centre jobs it transferred earlier this year to India. Such job exports by cost-cutting corporations are fast becoming a matter of extreme political sensitivity.

But despite this apparent concession most onlookers believe the returning jobs are a drop in the ocean alongside those that will disappear with the integration of the former rivals. The melding of the two businesses, analysts believe, will yield £58m in annualised savings and synergies within five years.

Claims Littlewoods' chairman David Simons: "It is quite clear that had we not come along, nineteen thousand jobs would have gone" -- a reference to GUS' intention to wind down its home shopping and home delivery businesses had an acceptable offer not been received.

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff