Great Universal Stores yesterday paid £1.4m for the assets of, the Internet retail portal that called in the receivers last year, the Financial Times reported. The deal between GUS and PwC, which was appointed administrator to Breathe, safeguards the future of the business's 80 remaining staff.

David Tyler, GUS finance director, said the group was buying Breathe for its technology and staff. The deal will bolster GUS's Reality arm, which it has developed into an e-business services group.

It is the second high-profile online business that GUS has bought in less than five months. Last September, the group paid £37m for, the computer, music and games e-tailer.