EasyInternet cafes to close
Stelios Haji-Ioannou - the founder of no frills airline Easyjet - is to restructure his Internet café business by ditching "mega" cybercafes in favour of smaller sites in established premises.
According to commercial property magazine, Property Week, the easyJet founder is looking to cut his losses from the Internet business he launched five years by closing sites in Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow, plus his main easyInternetcafe site in Oxford Street,
Stelios told Property Week: "I still believe people have a need for Internet businesses, but it is not about running megastores."
"The company has been advised that it can get a sizable premium (make a cash profit) on the sale of the lease of its Oxford street outlet. Only the Oxford street lease has been put on the market.”
Stelios launched his Internet business amidst a blaze of publicity. At the time, he predicted that the offer of cheap, fast Internet access would bring Londoners flocking to his stores.
However, with the advent of ever-cheaper broadband access, more and more people now have high-speed Internet links to their home computers.
Mr Haji-Ioannou, who two years ago said the business was back on track, has previously admitted that the venture was "the most expensive of my career."
The company's accounts show the business has lost £96m since it was created.
Stelios is currently planning to get his cybercafes in existing outlets including McDonald's, Burger King, and supermarket chain Sainsbury's.
But in a statement, a spokesman for Stelios said easyInternetcafe denied the company was closing all its large London stores.
"The other four London 'megastores', which are only a small part of the overall easyInternetcafe estate of almost 70 stores in nine countries, will be reviewed from time to time as the property market hots up.”
"easyInternetcafe wants to be in the Internet access business rather than the property business," he said.
Sources: BBC Online, The Register
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