London voted e-business capital of Europe

British e-tailers retain optimism amid mass of high-tech job cuts

British e-tailers are the most confident in Europe, with London emerging as the e-business capital of Europe, according to a report published by the Industrial Research Bureau on Wednesday.

Over 86 percent of British e-tailers expect online sales to increase over the next six months, compared with 75 percent of European e-tailers sharing the same optimism. And despite the announcement of 42,000 high-tech job cuts so far in Britain this month, the study also finds 42 percent of UK e-commerce entrepreneurs expecting to recruit new staff over the same period.

"The report is further confirmation that despite the gloomy news over UK job cuts in the tech sector, e-tailers are sound and healthy and gradually moving towards profitability," said Nick Rosen, analyst at the Online Research Agency.

None of the British e-tailers interviewed expected online sales to drop over the next half-year, and only six percent thought that employment opportunities within the industry would fall.

"E-tailers are at the sharp end of the Internet revenue generation, following the simple old-fashioned notion of selling things," said Rosen. "They have seen their revenues increase over time as they can show investors that they have genuine earnings."

According to the study, British e-tailers believe their ability to be competitive will have the biggest positive effect on sales over the next six months. Rosan argues that due to the dominance of English language on the Web, British consumers have had the best opportunity in getting to know the Internet. "They have had longer to get used to the wide variety of online retailing, and have had access to online US etailers," he said.

The travel sector emerged as the biggest online opportunity for e-tailing in Europe, with books and CDs additionally representing a promising area of growth.

In terms of specific brands, Amazon received 80 percent of the vote for the most successful European brand, despite the company's failure to move into profitability. "They have a fantastic inventory and their fulfilment is very good, but they have struggled to stay at number one, with their cost of sales and customer service being greater than expected," said Rosen.

The Energis e-tail confidence report questioned 250 companies across Europe that sell goods and services online. It does not make a distinction between clicks and mortar and pure-play Internet e-commerce sites.

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