BT plans to boost its growing IT services arm with the £17m acquisition of the UK operations of retail computer services specialist NSB.
NSB provides software and systems integration services to UK retailers, including BhS, Arcadia, WH Smith and Woolworths.
BT will become NSB's exclusive distributor in the UK, taking control of its customer base of more than 100 clients. It will also take on 148 NSB staff based in Birmingham.
Services are becoming increasingly important to BT, which has just landed two deals with the NHS worth more than £1.6bn over 10 years.
Retailers use NSB's point-of-sale systems to process transactions. The company also offers business analysis, planning and optimisation software for merchandising, forecasting and customer relationship management.
The operations will be moved to BT Expedite, a new business unit formed to target the retail sector.
Simon Scott, chief executive at BT Expedite, explained that the deal, which is subject to NSB shareholder approval in a meeting scheduled for 15 January, will help BT strengthen its computer services sales in this area.
"We have a strong retail base already but the acquisition of NSB gets us into store infrastructure [point-of-sale]," he said.
BT Expedite will offer a range of services, from large outsourcing deals through to simpler near off-the-peg applications which can be tweaked to meet the needs of individual retailers.
NSB will retain all rights to its existing and future software, and will receive licence and support fees from BT based on sales.
BT said that it aims to combine network, hosting and systems integration from its Syntegra services arm with NSB's support skills to offer a greater range of retail services.
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