On the Up: Dixons Group

Shares in Dixons, the electrical retailer, rose 23 per cent even though first-half profit fell 5.7 per cent. Investors are focused on the number of customers flocking to its Freeserve internet-access service. Around 900,000 customers have already signed up and it will break even this year.

Dixons' profits were boosted the previous year as customers spent building society windfalls. Without such spending power, demand for large household appliances such as freezers suffered the most. Dixons now hopes to make money from advertising and internet commerce. The British market for internet retail sales is expected to rise to pounds 3bn by 2003.

Freeserve became the UK's largest internet service provider in December, less than three months after it launched.