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Play.com closes direct retail business to become marketplace-only

Jersey-based online retailer Play.com has announced that in March it will shut down its retail business to become a marketplace-only, meaning it will no longer sell directly to consumers.

Play.com said the decision came following the end of Low Value Consignment Relief in April 2012, which allowed items less than £15 to be sold to the UK VAT-free.

As a result of the move, 147 staff in Jersey will be made redundant as well as 67 in its Cambridge and Bristol offices.

In a statement Play.com said: "Moving forward we are intending to focus exclusively on our successful marketplace, which is our main business area, and to phase out the direct-retail part of our business."

A spokesperson also confirmed that about 200 staff would be left in the restructured company, which will be based in Cambridge.

In September 2011, Play.com was taken over by Japanese e-commerce operator Rakuten. It paid £25m for the company, which at the time had 14 million registered users and was one of the largest online retailers in the UK.

Jennifer Faull

The Drum senior reporter Jen Faull provides news and insight on the latest developments in retail and FMCG.

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