Dixons increases its stake in PIXmania in a move to take full control of the firm

UK-based electrical retailer and services company Dixons Retail plc (LON:DXNS) said today it would take a further 22% stake in its 77%-owned unit PIXmania SAS for EUR10m (USD12.3m) in cash.

The transaction comes to support Dixons’ plan to give a boost to its strategically important business. The buyer agreed the deal with the target company’s founders Steve and Jean-Emile Rosenblum. It expects to finalise the buy later today.

Dixons’ UK and Ireland multi-channel operations are based on PIXmania’s e-Merchant platform. By boosting its shareholding in the firm, Dixons seeks to take full command of the business. It said it also intended to take measures to improve PIXmania’s performance, as the unit’s own trading business was facing huge challenges.

“PIXmania is the heart of our very successful UK multi-channel business and this acquisition will ensure the stability and flexibility to continue to improve the experience for the customers of that business,” said Dixons chief executive Sebastian James.

Digital photography and consumer electronic goods e-tailer PIXmania is currently doing business in 26 countries through its websites. In its fiscal 2011/12 through April, Dixons reported total PIXmania revenues of GBP665m (USD1bn/EUR845m), while its own sales stood at GBP8.19bn. PIXmania posted an underlying operating loss of GBP19.8m, while Dixons booked an underlying profit of GBP128.7m.

Consumers get more comfortable shopping online — study

Consumers around the world are becoming increasingly comfortable with online shopping but they are also doing significantly more research on brands and reading up on product and services information.

The latest evidence of this comes courtesy of a multi-market study carried out by enterprise software giant Oracle and online market research firm MarketTools.

The duo polled 3,111 adult consumers from 15 countries, among them the UK, the US, Germany, China, Brazil and India. The results showed that 80% of the sample researched goods and services online or browsed relevant information on a weekly basis, while a similar study from 2009 had the proportion standing at 62%.

In the new poll, 49% of participants said they undertook this activity on a daily basis as opposed to 26% in the earlier analysis. When it comes to researching or reading done monthly, the respective figures were 90% and 78%.

Oracle and MarketTools established that 20% of the people surveyed engaged in online transactions every week and 35% bought something online every month. Chinese consumers showed great fondness for e-commerce, with 57% saying they shopped online every week and 10% doing it on a daily basis.

The two companies also wanted to know what consumers regarded as the most important characteristics of relevant websites. For 77% of respondents, one such quality was easy browsing and searching, while 59% pointed to hassle-free access to their accounts.

A customer service tool offering “live help” was cited as important by 57% and 44% went with user reviews. Optimised mobile apps and personalised promotions scored 32% and a social sharing function garnered 31%.

Source: M2 Bespoke News