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U.K. Royal Stamp Dealer Stanley Gibbons to Compete With EBay

Stanley Gibbons Group Plc, the 157-year-old stamp dealer endorsed by the U.K. royal family, said it plans to expand online offerings to compete with auction company EBay Inc., and is looking at opening three new offices abroad.

The collectibles company plans to reduce the U.K.’s contribution to revenue to 10 percent in five years, Chief Executive Officer Michael Hall said today in a phone interview. That compares with 39 percent in the first half of this year. Stanley Gibbons, based at St. Helier on the Channel Island of Jersey, has budgeted 2 million pounds ($3.1 million) a year to invest in Internet development, said Hall, who joined the company in 2000.

“I always said at the very beginning that I expected to turn it over on its head” in terms of reducing the British market’s role at Stanley Gibbons, the CEO said.

First-half adjusted pretax profit fell 10 percent to 1.8 million pounds, with earnings held back by 560,000 pounds of spending on online projects, the company said today in a statement. Revenue rose 17 percent to 17.2 million pounds. Second-half growth will be boosted by sales of memorabilia from the birth of Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge, the first great-grandson of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, it said.

The company has recruited “very capable” people from online marketplaces such as EBay and Inc. who see opportunities for Stanley Gibbons to expand its Internet presence, the CEO said. The company, which deals in postage stamps, coins and autographs, will look at establishing a presence in Dubai and Geneva as well as in Australia after opening an office in Singapore in April, he said.

Stanley Gibbons fell 2 percent to 299 pence in London, paring the advance to 27 percent this year.

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