Zoopla profits surge following uSwitch acquisition

Zoopla profits have surged in the last year, the property portal announced today.

Zoopla Property Group saw its revenue climb 130 per cent in the six months to 31st March 2016 compared to the same period last year, reaching a total of £96.4 million.

The company’s strong results arrive after a year in which many may have written off the Rightmove competitor, with a new challenger website – OnTheMarket.com – launching at the start of 2015 with the aim of stealing Zoopla’s number two spot in the UK portal market. A number of prominent agents left Zoopla for the new rival, although in recent months, there have been reports of some returning.

Zoopla, meanwhile, responded by expanding, with the acquisition of uSwitch last year adding the price comparison site to its property sites Zoopla.co.uk and PrimeLocation.com – and, as of last month, the recently acquired Property Software Group.

Its property arm enjoyed “robust performance”, with 12 months of estate agent growth and its property listings growing to 854,000. Its comparison services arm, though, gave the company its biggest boost, with uSwitch outperforming expectations with “record levels of Energy and Communications switches”. Indeed, comparison leads jumped 37 per cent to 16.2 million.

Traffic to the group’s websites also climbed 300 million, with mobile making up 68 per cent of the visits.

Alex Chesterman, Founder & CEO of ZPG, says the “particularly strong” performance by uSwitch was fuelled by a large number of consumers looking to switch energy providers in the winter and a “highly-competitive environment for broadband deals”.

“Over the past six months, we have helped save consumers over £175m on their household energy bills alone,” Chesterman comments.

“We have launched a number of exciting new features for both consumers and professionals including our ‘Running costs’ tool which helps our users understand the total costs of occupying any property and our award-winning ‘AdReach’ retargeting product which helps our partners win more business,” he adds.

The sector, though, remains competitive, with OnTheMarket still fighting its corner and Rightmove also enjoying growth.

“Zoopla’s stock price hit an all-time high this month,” comments Third Bridge chief executive Emmanuel Tahar, “but despite the company’s regional strengths its rivals Rightmove still have the edge in lead generation overall. The agents we surveyed continue to see more value in Rightmove’s premium features and listings, largely because the site has a wider reach with potential buyers and renters. Indeed, if subscription prices were to increase, most agents claim they would continue to use Rightmove, but a similar move by Zoopla would see a notable number choose to discontinue their subscriptions. The agents we spoke to see the lower subscription price as a key differentiator for Zoopla, so the company may not have much room for manoeuvre when it comes to pricing.”