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Barclays in pounds 590m deal with Argos.

Argos's owner GUS announced the pounds 590m sale of its home shopping businesses in the UK, Ireland and Sweden to the millionaire Barclay brothers.

Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay - believed to be the 34th richest men in Britain - are likely to merge GUS's mail order arm with the Littlewood business they bought from the Moores family last year for pounds 750m.

GUS is also selling its Reality logistics and customer care business in the UK to the Barclays' March UK company for pounds 450m.

A further pounds 140m is payable in May 2006, with the proceeds used to pay GUS debts.

A GUS spokesman said it was "too early to say" whether the transaction would result in job cuts among the nearly 17,500 people currently employed by the businesses.

Trading conditions have been tough for GUS, which announced in April that sales in the agency home shopping business were 8pc lower than the second half of the previous year.

But Argos Direct saw sales grow by 29pc in the same period and now accounts for 17pc of total Argos sales, compared with 15pc in the second half of last year.

Following the transaction, the Argos Retail Group is left with Argos, the Homebase DIY chain, Dutch home shopping business Wehkamp, and ARG Financial Services.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:May 28, 2003
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