Yell unveils turnaround plans

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The Independent Online

The new chief executive of Yell yesterday laid out a four-year plan that will see the indebted directories business target small businesses and take the fight to Google and Groupon to turn around its fortunes.

The Yellow Pages publisher outlined its plans to return to growth by 2015, which will include expanding its services to help to reinvigorate local commerce along with its own fortunes.

With the launch of what the group dubbed a "local eMarketplace platform", Yell will become a "marriage broker" between consumers and small businesses, its chief executive, Mike Pocock, said. He added that following the overhaul, the target market would grow from £28bn to £280bn.

The new direction will see small businesses offered services to make them more efficient, and allow them to attract and retain customers. Consumers will also be rewarded for shopping locally with loyalty points and vouchers.

Mr Pocock, who joined as Yell's head in January, said: "Small businesses need help: they just don't have the resources to acquire the amount of new customers they want. Consumers also need help: they want to shop locally, but it is currently too hard." He added that existing search engine and discount groups "are not addressing the key needs of consumers. The services are not integrated enough."

Mr Pocock said major shareholders had given the plans the thumbs-up at a meeting on Wednesday but the shares tumbled 24 per cent to 8.4p yesterday.

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