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Play.com bows out of online retail, will still do marketplace

Ardjuna Seghers by

Play.com bows out of online retail, will still do marketplace

Play.com, one of the largest online retailers in the UK which sold everything from clothes to gadgets, games and electronics, is shutting the retail part of its business in March, the company has revealed.

As such it will no longer be selling directly to customers, and will be focusing on its marketplace which is similar to Amazon Marketplace.

The Jersey-based company blames the closure on the ending of the Low Value Consignment Relief (LVCR) law that meant items worth less than £15 could be sold in the UK without incurring a VAT charge. The UK government closed this loophole in April 2012.

With Blu-rays, DVDs, CDs, games, memory sticks and inexpensive gadgets making up a large portion of Play.com’s sales, these inexpensive items were all being sold VAT-free, which was one of the reasons the etailer’s prices were often so competitive.

Play.com, which was bought by Japanese giant Rakuten in 2011, will make all of its 147 Jersey staff redundant, along with 67 employees based in Cambridge and Bristol. After the transition, it will still be employing around 200 in its relocated headquarters at Cambridge.

We’re always sad to see a technology retailer disappear, but at least it will still exist as a service to let others sell their wares. Then again, it may have a hard time competing with Amazon and Ebay which already offer similar online outlets, especially now that confidence in the Play.com name may have been shaken.


Go to comments

martin daler

January 9, 2013, 5:50 pm

Sad for those directly affected. But all Play was doing to justify its existence was to exploit a VAT loophole (at the expense of retailers who did/could not). Now that the tide has gone out they have been exposed as not having any other competitive advantage sufficient to sustain them, so clearly they were not doing anything of substance better or more efficiently than the competition.


January 9, 2013, 10:30 pm

Another reason to hate the Tories.

Andrew Fish

January 10, 2013, 8:19 am

So you think tax avoidance should be applauded?


January 10, 2013, 10:31 am

But is the VAT loophole the whole story? As a former regular customer, the rot set in long before that came into effect.

It long since stopped being competitive for any goods, not just CDs.


January 10, 2013, 10:59 pm

I think providing very cheap products for UK consumers who typically are forced to pay too much for everything should be applauded. All the government have achieved is to push up prices and nudge people towards piracy rather than increase revenue on the British high street. But Play were a shadow of their former selves from the moment they were bought out and taken over, anyway.

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