eToys appoints first European marketing head

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LONDON--U.S. online toy retailer eToys Inc has appointed James Bidwell as its director of marketing for Europe to oversee the launch of its U.K. Web site, its first venture outside the U.S.

Mr. Bidwell joins eToys from used car retailer Carland, where he was marketing director. His international marketing experience includes stints at Sega Amusements Europe and the Walt Disney Co.

(www.etoys.co.uk), set to launch by November, will sell global brands of toys, software, videos and video games. The company is setting up a warehouse for its goods in Swindon, west London.

Toby Lenk, eToys' president-CEO, says: "Our U.K. launch will enable us to bring to this market the same combination of superior selection and customer service that has made us the gold standard in children's retail in the U.S."

The company plans to use the U.K. as a "beachhead" for future expansion in Europe. Internet users are set to quadrupule in Europe to 50 million by the year 2003, according to industry analyst Jupiter Communications.

One of Mr. Bidwell's immediate responsibilities will be the appointment of an advertising agency. "Our objective is to build the brand off-line as well as online", he says.

Mr. Bidwell confirms he is talking to advertising agencies in the U.K. but would not disclose names. The U.S. account is handled by Publicis Hal Riney.

Mr. Bidwell is also talking to "potential online marketing partners in the U.K."

Copyright September 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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