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Play.com purchased by Japanese retail giant

22 September 2011 - 21:13 by Mike Price

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UK online-only retailer Play.com has been snapped up by Rakuten, an e-commerce company which is the largest of its kind in its native Japan.

Play.com has been providing DVDs, CDs, clothing and electronics to UK consumers via safe shopping online for the past 13 years, but after paying £25 million in cash, it is now a subsidiary of Rakuten.

This Japanese company has been making headway in its attempt to capture a larger segment of the e-commerce market which is currently dominated by US firms like Amazon and eBay.

As well as paying a cash sum it is expected that Play.com's new owners will be taking responsibility for an undisclosed amount of debt.

Rakuten is now in control of e-commerce companies across 10 different nations around the world and after the UK, further countries will be entered into via acquisitions, including Germany and Russia.

Fourteen million UK consumers carry out safe shopping online with Play.com but the company has been experiencing a little bit of a growth problem because people are no longer buying CDs and DVDs in the same volumes as before, instead concentrating on downloads and streaming to get their entertainment fix.

Rakuten spokesperson, Hiroshi Mikitan, told the Financial Times that the UK's e-commerce market is the biggest in the continent and is growing quickly, making it very attractive for investors from abroad.

He said that his firm would be able to offer the knowledge and expertise to Play.com which would allow it to overcome current growth issues and make good progress in the coming months and years.

Although the takeover bid is not finalised it looks like the ink will be drying on the agreement by next month, which could signal an exciting, bold new age for e-commerce in the UK.