Play.com, the UK-based online DVD and music retailer, is to be bought by Japanese e-commerce firm Rakuten for £25 million.
Play.com is the second biggest online retailer in the UK, according to traffic monitoring service Hitwise, with more than seven million registered customers. It employs a staff of more than 500.
The acquisition is Rakuten's third major foray into the European market. In 2010, Rakuten bough French outfit PriceMinister, followed by German online shopping mall Tradoria in July 2011. The Play.com acquisition will give Rakuten a valuable foothold in the UK's e-commerce market - the largest in Europe - which is expected to top £37 billion by 2014, according to market research firm Forrester.
Commenting on the acquisition, Hiroshi Mikitani, Chairman and CEO of Rakuten, said: "The UK market is one of Europe's largest and most mature e-commerce markets. Play.com is not only a pioneer in the market, but also one of the UK's most successful e-commerce businesses. We aim to leverage our e-commerce strength and experience to further expand and develop Play.com's business model and channel its loyal user base, merchants, and deep product offerings into Rakuten's global e-commerce network."