Dixons opens shops for baffled buyers

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DIXONS is to open a new chain of stores to help consumers who want to take part in the brave new world of mobile telephones and computer information services but are baffled by its complexity.

The Link, whose first four outlets will be open by Christmas, will sell hardware but its focus is to be on providing information and demonstrations of services.

John Clare, chief executive of Dixons, Britain's largest consumer electronics retailer, said: 'The sales process between staff and customer will be completely different from other stores, with an emphasis on providing information and advice.'

He added that new technology was increasingly a combination of access to an entertainment, communications or information network as well as a piece of equipment.

The Link will sell satellite television, mobile telephone and on-line computer information services and the hardware associated with them including pagers, faxes and telephones.

The first store, at Kingston, Surrey, opens at the end of the month. Three others, all in London, will open by the end of the year, with four more sites completing the pilot chain in February.

Dixons, which has more than 750 stores in the UK including its Currys and PC World outlets, believes the new technology will be one of the fastest-growing consumer markets of the next few years.

More than two million peoples are connected to a mobile phone network and the introduction of lower tariffs and free off-peak calls has seen consumer interest explode. Forecasts see 14 million subscribers by 2000.

With four different national networks and the added complication of GSM, the new worldwide digital network, however, buying the right service is confusing. A quarter of The Link's floor space will be devoted to simply explaining the difference between available services.

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