Somerfield buys direct-order firm

Somerfield has shown its determination to be a major player in home shopping by acquiring a London-based business for pounds 3.25m.

Somerfield has shown its determination to be a major player in home

shopping by acquiring a London-based business for pounds 3.25m.



The supermarket chain, which is still in the process of merging its

operation with Kwik Save, has bought out Supermarket Direct, which

trades under the name of Flanagans and has a customer base of 10,000

with sales in excess of pounds 4m per year.



Flanagans operates out of a warehouse in south London and has a

dedicated call centre for taking orders.



This will be integrated with Somerfield’s own home-shopping activities -

until now based in Bristol and the South West - and managed as a

separate business division called Somerfield Direct.



Flanagans founder Dominick Scott-Flanagan and his partner David Noble

will join the Somerfield Direct board, which will be chaired by

Somerfield finance director Martin Gatto. Phil Smith, Somerfield group

marketing director, also joins the board.



The chain hopes to challenge Iceland’s lead in the home-shopping

market.



A spokeswoman said that, by the end of April, Somerfield will have the

second biggest home-delivery fleet in the country after Iceland, but

with the advantage of carrying a bigger range.



The aim is to develop a network of warehouses throughout the

country.



Customers will be able to order products by telephone or fax, and

Somerfield will also extend its web site, on which customers can

currently order wine and flowers, to take orders for the full range of

home shopping.



However, it believes that the main opportunity for home shopping will

come from interactive television. In August, Somerfield Direct will

begin trading on BIB’s interactive service, Open.



The spokeswoman said: ’We believe that the way forward for home shopping

will be via TV. Most people do not have a computer at home, although the

internet may be popular for office shopping.’