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First free Net service in France

KINGFISHER, the Woolworths and B&Q retail group, is linking up with the French entrepreneur and LMVH chairman Bernard Arnault to offer the first free Internet access service in France.

In an attempt to mimic the success of Dixons' Freeserve service in the UK, Kingfisher will offer free Internet access discs though its 137-strong chain of Darty electrical stores in France.

Subscribers to the Libertysurf service will be able to buy goods from Darty and Kingfisher's Castorama DIY chain. Group Arnault, the family holding company of Mr Arnault, will provide offers on luxury goods brands such as Louis Vuitton and Chanel. Only 4 per cent of French households are connected to the Internet, compared with 12 per cent in the UK. Kingfisher shares rose 5 per cent to 882p.