SHOP Direct, which bought GUS plc's home shopping brands, in May - including the Worcester-based Reality - is insisting it is "business as usual".

Despite the spectre of the Competition Commission decision hanging over the firm - Trade Secretary, Patricia Hewitt, is expected to rule later this month on whether Shop Direct can merge operations with sister company, Littlewoods - it has forged ahead with a new deal.

The company has signed a major distribution deal with Boots to distribute the Additions Direct catalogue, the former Argos Additions catalogue that has now been re-named.

The Argos catalogue - but not the Argos shops - were part of the GUS home shopping brands stable bought by Shop Direct.

The deal with Boots will see 2m copies of the Additions Direct catalogue available to shoppers in more than 300 Boots stores, from tomorrow, Saturday, January 17.

"Additions Direct, which has more than 3.5 million customers and sales of over £200m a year, has proved to be one of the great success stories of the fashion-led home shopping industry since it was launched by GUS, in spring 2001," said David Boardman, for Shop Direct.

"Critical to its success, however, is making sure the catalogue is accessible on the High Street as well as via the web and by telephone and the Boots deal gives Additions Direct access to almost a tenth of the population."

Mr Boardman would not be drawn on what Shop Direct would do if the Competition Commission refused permission to merge operations with Littlewoods. Both companies are owned by March UK.

"We just have to wait and see - I really can't comment on the future."