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U.K. cyber cafe heads to New York

IDG.net

April 11, 2000
Web posted at: 9:05 a.m. EDT (1305 GMT)

(IDG) -- EasyEverything founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou is planning to extend his chain of big orange cyber cafes to the Big Apple, a spokesman for the company said Monday.

The easyEverything chain offers low-cost Internet access to travellers and others without their own computers through its five London cyber cafes, easily recognizable by their giant orange facades. Located in tourist areas such as Oxford Street and Victoria Station, the cafes have a total of 2,300 computer terminals. The company has recently added outlets in Rotterdam, Edinburgh, Amsterdam and Barcelona.

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Now the company is planning to take on the American market. The easyEverything the company wants to open in Times Square will have "more than 600 terminals," James Rothnie, the company's public relations director, said. "Disney and Nasdaq are interested in the same building," he added.

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"Stelios is in New York right now looking at the property in Manhattan," Rothnie said. "And one of the problems is that people are asking 'easy what?' and asking for a very large guarantee because they've never heard of us."

Stelios Haji-Ioannou is founder of EasyEverything, as well as the man behind low-cost European airline easyJet.

Rothnie wouldn't reveal how much the company was prepared to spend on the New York location, but did acknowledge that it would be more than the company currently spends, "about 1 million pounds ($1.6 million) in purchasing and refurbishing each location," he said.

EasyEverything bases its financial model on bulk purchasing, so although the price fluctuates according to supply and demand, Internet access can usually be had for 1 pound ($1.60) per hour or even less.

EasyEverything plans to keep prices low in the U.S. market as well. "In the U.K., telecom rates are higher; we're going to have to be competitive or people won't come," Rothnie said.

"The whole point of easyEverything is bringing the fastest and the cheapest Internet access to users," he added.

Expansion in the U.S. will depend on the success of the company's flagship branch, Rothnie said. Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago were all possible targets, he said. "L.A. would also be very attractive as the next place in the states," he added.



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