The reclusive billionaire twins Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay bought Littlewoods in 2002 and merged it with the catalogue retail operations of rival GUS. The result is Britain’s biggest home-shopping operator, with sales of £1,766m in 2007, when it reported a loss of £8m. Once known for its catalogues and high-street shops, the Merseyside company plans to double its internet sales to £750m in the next three years. Chief executive Mark Newton-Jones has overseen a revamp of its product range and believes the company will overcome the long-term decline in the catalogue shopping market.

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Company details
Year2008
Rank19
CompanyShop Direct
ActivityInternet and catalogue retailer
LocationLiverpool
Sales £m1,766
Profit £m-8
Year endApr 07
Principal shareholdersSir David Barclay and Sir Frederick Barclay (95%), Bank of Scotland (5%)
Staff18,000
Founded1923
Websitewww.shopdirect.com

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* Supplied by company † Annualised figure