Supermarket chain Asda has joined forces with The Sun newspaper's Internet service, dubbed Currant Bun, to ensure that it does not get left out of the free net access war.
From today Asda will make more than 3 million copies of the CD needed to hook up to Currant Bun available free in its 227 stores nationwide, a spokesperson for the supermarket chain confirmed to VNU Newswire. The teaming will be backed by a million-pound ad campaign starring the television presenter Johnny Ball.
Asda will sell books, clothes and holidays online on the Currant Bun portal. This is likely to be followed up by online grocery shopping similar to that offered by arch rival Tesco's free access Internet service.
"This partnership will stand us in good stead to meet the exciting opportunities that new media presents the supermarket industry," commented Andy Bond, Asda's marketing director.
Industry watchers believe that The Sun's move will enable it to leapfrog its rival The Mirror in the Internet war. Last week the Mirror unveiled its own free access Internet service, ic24. Asda has a ready made marketplace for Currant Bun, with some 6 million people shopping at the supermarket chain each week.
Asda already sells a range of its own brand PCs, called Targa Pro 400. A spokesperson declined to expand on the possibility of Asda growing its computer range to fit in with the exclusive Currant Bun deal. "We have offered PCs for sale in our stores for some time and where we can add value we will," said the spokesperson.
Asda is in the process of being taken over by Kingfisher, the retail giant that owns the B&Q, Superdrug, Woolworth and Comet chains. Last week Kingfisher linked up with France's Group Arnault to launch the first pan-European free Internet access service.
Dixons, the electrical retailer, is the leading Internet provider with its Freeserve service. Freeserve has almost tripled Dixons' share price since it was launched last year.
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