EToys to shut European operations, lay off 74

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Toy e-tailer eToys announced Jan. 3 it would close its business and Web site in the U.K. because of poor sales during the holiday shopping season in the U.S. and an overall lack of enthusiasm for pure-play dot-coms in the investment community. EToys launched the U.K. site in October 1999; though the Santa Monica, Calif., company acknowledged sales on the U.K. Web site did well during the Christmas season--that sales more than doubled over the same period in 1999--it was not enough to offset difficulties in the U.S. EToys issued a revenue warning in December that sales were falling short of expectations. The company said it had been forced to explore a merger, asset sale or other restructuring but had enough money to continue trading through to the end of March. The European business, which includes the U.K. Web site and a distribution center in Belgium, will close Jan. 19, as part of the company's overall effort to reduce operating costs. The Web site kicked off a "going out of business sale," offering all products at least 50% off.

Copyright January 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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