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June 12, 1997updated 05 Sep 2016 12:35pm

MASS MARKETER CUC IS FOCUSING ON THE NET, INKS DEAL WITH AOL

By CBR Staff Writer

At the Robertson Stevens & Company’s 2nd International Investors’ Growth Conference held in London last week, CUC International Inc won the prize for the scariest presentation of the conference with its new corporate mission statement. We want to sell every credit worthy house in the world – everything said chairman Walter Forbes. CUC is a US based direct marketing company with discount clubs selling just about everything. In a few years time, 95% of everything you want to buy will be available from us, Forbes continued. The company is working quickly towards that goal. At the end of May, CUCannounced a merger with HFS Inc, the world’s biggest franchiser of hotel properties and residential real estate brokerage offices, creating a combined market capitalization in excess of $20bn and introducing a whole range of cross selling opportunities. And on Tuesday CUC signed a deal with America Online Inc, handing over $50m in exchange for gaining prominent placement of its online shopping and travel services on AOL’s network. CUC claims 68 million consumers use its services at present and says it is shifting its focus from telephone selling to the internet, where it is investing in all forms of the latest virtual reality selling techniques. At the end of last year it was selling $400m worth of goods over the internet every month, but unlike many other internet commerce models, CUC has no intention of taking a commission from the transactions it handles. It makes most of its revenues from a $49 annual membership fee. In this way CUC intends to undercut retailers all over the world. We can sell all our products at cost for the rest of our lives and still turn a profit Forbes said. In fact, CUC don’t really care if you take a price they quote and simply use it as a bargaining tool to beat the price down at your local shops. As long as you pay your membership fees, they’re happy. Retailers, you have been warned.

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