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Strathfield Group Heads for Travel Sector

Car audio system and mobile phone retailer the Strathfield Group has entered the travel space, by investing in Internet travel company Travel Online.

Under the strategic partnership, Strathfield's e-commerce division Strathfield E-Ventures has invested AUD$750,000 (US$495,000) in a convertible note in Travel Online, which equates to 11.25 percent ordinary equity of the company.

Strathfield, which listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in June 1998, has also appointed board member Craig Cooper to the board of Travel Online.

Although the travel and mobile communications sectors seem removed, Strathfield chief executive officer Andrew Kelly said that the partnership was part of E-Ventures' strategic move into one of the fastest growing online markets.

"Travel has already replaced computers in the US as the number one e-commerce category," said Kelly.

"The travel sector is definitely a business where we can add value. We plan to work with Travel Online to develop specific content and travel applications to be delivered over wireless and mobile devices to our online corporate and retail customer base."

The deal also signals Strathfield's intention to provide more than just mobile communications, but also deliver the content for these devices.

"With the convergence of the Internet and mobile devices we want to position ourselves to be a leading aggregator and provider of content and services to the mobile sector," Kelly said.

The partnership also offers Brisbane-based Travel Online a new method of delivering its travel content, said Cooper.

"It will provide an alternative to PCs for Internet travel content," Cooper said. This content will go beyond booking flights, and move into changing aspects of an itinerary from a mobile device and emailing people about these changes, technology that Cooper said was currently being developed.

Travel Online caters to both the retail and the business to business travel market, and has more than 150 specific travel sites that receive more than 50,000 visitors per month.