GUS made a move into a new market today with its announcement of the purchase of, the computer software, peripherals and entertainment e-tailer, for £37m. Around £12m of the sum includes repayment of debt.

The new acquisition will fall under the Argos umbrella, with chief executive, Steve Bennett, reporting to Terry Duddy, chief executive of the Argos Retail Group. Other senior management members are committed to staying with for a minimum of two years. has developed a strong position selling PCs, computer peripherals and software, as well as console and computer games, music and videos through its websites, catalogues and telesales operation. It is consistently rated among the top five most visited e-tailing sites in the UK.

John Peace, chief executive of GUS, said: "There is a strong strategic fit between these two businesses. For the first time, GUS will be able to offer its customers a wide range of computer and office products via the most convenient channel, be it store, catalogue or Internet. With this acquisition, GUS is establishing itself as a leading e-commerce retailer, with annual sales of well over £50m."

GUS, which announced last month that it intended to focus more strongly on its core businesses, says that will allow Argos to get into the rapidly growing computer peripherals, hardware and software market with a well-known brand. The wider product range for the home office market is also good news for Argos.

The acquisition will help GUS and Argos to shore up weaker members of the group, such as its Home Shopping brand, which has showed a six per cent decline in sales for the year to date.

Independent market research places as the second most recognised e-tailer in the UK, behind Amazon. Sales in the 12 months to 31 July 2000 were £75m, and losses before tax, after a full write off of technological developments (£2m) and launch marketing costs (£5m), were £11.4m.

Steve Bennett, founder and chief executive of, said: "GUS gives the muscle to take us to the next stage in our growth. Of the many offers we had for the business, GUS was by far the best fit."

About Argos Retail Group
The Argos Retail Group has four operating divisions: Argos, Home Shopping UK and Ireland, Home Shopping Continental Europe and Financial Services. It is a major multi-channel retailing organisation, with total sales of over £4bn and profits of over £180m.

Argos is the UK's leading catalogue retailer, through 462 high street and edge of town outlets, including 12 in the Republic of Ireland.

The Argos Retail Group is also the UK's largest home shopping retailer, through both agency and direct catalogues and its websites. It offers over 1,200 pages of clothing, home and leisure goods, as well as credit and financial products to over four million customers.

It operates direct mail catalogues in the Netherlands, Austria, Sweden and Switzerland, sending out nearly four million catalogues a season.