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Struggling EToys plans European shutdown

New year claims first dotcom victim (many more to come)

Embattled online toy seller Etoys - which warned last month that it could run out of money by the end of March - is now moving to shut down its European operations, including a UK-based web site that will stop taking orders 19 January.

In a notice posted on the UK site, Los Angeles-based EToys said that the operation "has performed really well" since it was launched 15 months ago.

But EToys added that it was forced to set the shutdown plan in the UK because of "the disappointing recent performance of the company as a whole" and its continuing inability to find needed new financing.

EToys warned last month that financial results for the quarter that ended in December are expected to be significantly below plan, with sales only about half of what company officials had previously predicted.

The online retailer said it would need a "substantial cash infusion" in order to keep operating and indicated that layoffs and other cost-cutting moves are in the works.

As part of the planned shutdown in the UK EToys said it's cutting prices by 50 percent on all products sold through that web site.

Customer service representatives in the UK will remain on phone duty until 26 January and will be available via email for another two weeks after that, but the company said it will only accept returns of items bought after 29 December if they're defective or were shipped in error.

The rest of EToys' European businesses are also due to be closed down early this year, according to company officials. A total of about 75 workers are expected to go as part of the closings.

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