GUS resuscitates Breathe

Argos owner vows to take troubled ISP out of sick ward with £1.4m deal

Collapsed Internet service provider Breathe has been brought back to life with a £1.4m purchase by Great Universal Stores (GUS). The group, which owns the Argos retail chain, said it hopes to save at least 80 of Breathe's 140 jobs.

Breathe went into administration last month with about £50m of debts. GUS, which said it will probably use Breathe's multi-platform technology and assets to power the company's Reality remote shopping service, got a bargain-basement price for a company once worth more than £100m.

Breathe has 600,000 registered users and generated £1.4m in revenues in the nine months ending 30 September. GUS said the group's losses in the coming financial year will probably reach £7m.

The ISP, founded by Martin Dawes, launched in April with the promise of operating on different platforms, such as interactive television and Internet-enabled mobile phones. The company was hurt by the lack of enthusiasm for Net phones and also by difficulties with its unmetered access offering, for which it signed up about 50,000 users.

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