Starring role for video shop

A DYNAMIC young online video store is set to enjoy a new starring role thanks to a £3.8m investment boost which will create 75 jobs in Belfast and London.

Northern Ireland- based internet retailer BlackStar has secured a multi-million pound investment boost from Atlas Venture and a group of Texas investors. Atlas Venture is a technology and e- commerce venture capital firm and the Texas investor group has an investment portfolio which spans Virgin Entertainment and Ducati motorcycles.

BlackStar, established just 18 months ago by three partners, has become one of the fastest growing internet video and DVD retailers in the UK. It offers more than 50,000 titles in its online store – the average high street store stocks around 2,500 – and boasts customers in 95 countries across the globe.

BlackStar now plans to use its new investment capital to fund infrastructure and marketing initiatives on a worldwide basis. The directors of the company also hope to float BlackStar public either on the London Stock Exchange or Nasdaq within the next 12 to 18 months.

Meanwhile, business experts today warned employers to take their first steps on the information superhighway or risk being run over in the rush. The computer network allows low cost access to a global marketplace which was once the territory of international firms only.

Consumers can browse through and purchase a huge variety of goods and services, from pizza delivery to divorce lawyers, using computers and credit cards. Many small firms in Northern Ireland have already won new business by advertising their services on the Internet including Graham and Sons in Omagh which prints postcards for the Falkland Islands.

The Ulster Bank is to introduce internet banking for its largest customers next month. Paul Clarke, a partner at Deloitte & Touche in Belfast, said: “The Internet is becoming less of a technology issue and more of a business issue.

“Growing businesses that fail to embrace e-business will find their customer base dwindling as more companies develop business on the Internet.”

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