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The Kelsey Report® Advisory

BT Banks on Name to Emerge in U.K. Directories Market
Charles Laughlin , 3/1/2004

SUMMARY: British Telecom got rid of a gold mine when it sold off Yellow Pages Group, now known as Yell Group, back in 2001 in a desperate move to reduce its staggering debt load. BT's exit from directories lasted only as long as the non-compete agreement it signed when it accepted a check for US$3 billion in exchange for its Yellow Pages business. Today, BT Directories is rapidly rolling out new classified directories throughout the United Kingdom, attaching classified sections to its existing White Pages books. After a slow start in which it used a third-party sales channel, BT is now hitting its stride, rolling out roughly three new books a week and successfully assembling a sales force of roughly 250. BT publishes 171 White Pages directories throughout the U.K. (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland), and is more than two-thirds of the way through adding classifieds to these books. It is just beginning the renewal cycle on its first directories.

BT's value proposition is simple. It hopes to leverage its position as a "one-stop" resource, carrying both business and residential White Pages in addition to classified directories. While BT's pricing is lower than its main rival Yell, its scoping is also more narrow, and BT executives insist that price is not its wedge into the hearts and minds of U.K. businesses. The publisher believes its greatest asset is its name an iconic brand in the U.K. BT hopes to leverage what it sees as instant credibility into a strong market position against its erstwhile subsidiary Yell, which holds a significant majority share of the U.K. classified directories business.

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