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Breathe is to re-employ key members of staff made redundant in December now that GUS is relaunching the business writes Justin Pearse

Collapsed mobile ISP Breathe is having to re-employ key members of staff made redundant in December now that new owner Great Universal Stores (GUS) is relaunching the business.

A major recruitment campaign for the ISP has been sanctioned by GUS. The mobile ISP had to make staff redundant when it went into administration just before Christmas.

Breathe, once valued at more than £100m, was rescued from liquidation by GUS in January with a £1.4m purchase. At the time, GUS said that it would most likely use Breathe's technology assets to drive its Reality remote shopping service.

It now appears, however, that GUS will continue to run Breathe as a mobile ISP, but industry sources suggest GUS will drop Breathe's fixed-line ISP offering.

Sean Gardner, who is understood to be continuing as COO, was attempting to distance the company from its ISP image in the months before the crash. Its inability to subsidise its £50 for life unmetered service was cited as the reason for its collapse.

An announcement is expected imminently from GUS as to the retail giant's development plans for Breathe. A source confirmed the portal is in the process of seeking new contracts with redundant staff.

Before its demise Breathe was preparing to launch a number of innovative services, including mobile voice browsing and a mobile banking service, in partnership with an unnamed financial institution. It's not known whether these services will now be revived.

Henry Harrison, head of mobile at telecoms consultancy Schema, believes the born-again Breathe could have good prospects in the uncertain mobile climate.

'It's still an uncertain business model,' he said. 'But perhaps a well-funded backer like GUS will see Breathe through to be one of the last standing.'

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Published 15 February, 2001 by NMA Staff

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