Britain's big two electrical retailers, Dixons and Comet, are under threat from a new online competitor launching this week.
The Helpful Home Shopping Company is a virtual electrical goods store opening on the back of a £3m advertising campaign. There's no high-street presence - the venture uses a newly set up call centre in Bristol, the website at www.helpful.co.uk and a head office based in Stevenage, Herts.
Behind the venture are Eddie Styring, once chairman of Comet, and his former purchasing director, Peter Hopper. The management team have made agreements with all the major manufacturers of higher value appliances such as PCs, washing machines, cookers and fridges.
"It offers consumers everywhere the chance to finally get a good deal when it comes to purchasing major electrical products via the website or the call centre," said Styring.
The plan is to win a significant market share from established high-street retailers, with a three-point offer to consumers: a three-year warranty free of charge, free delivery and free removal of old equipment.
Head-on competition on price is also part of the plan. Including the value of the free warranty, Helpful Home Shopping claims an average consumer could save between £50 to £200 on each item.
The free warranty is backed by respected insurance company Cornhill Insurance. Peter Hopper's previous job was as commercial director of interactive TV service Open, where he set up many of the deals which brought high-street retail names to the channel.
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