Zoopla chief executive Alex Chesterman has branded rival OnTheMarket “a failed experiment”, and said that his property site was winning back customers at a record rate.
OnTheMarket was set up last year, aiming to compete with Zoopla and Rightmove, the UK’s two biggest property portals. It allowed estate agents to list their properties more cheaply than rivals, but insisted that any agents using its site could only use one other portal. As the number two in the market, Zoopla was expected to suffer most.
However, reporting full-year results on Wednesday, Mr Chesterman said Zoopla had won back 600 agents. “This is the beginning of the end for OnTheMarket,” he added.
Zoopla’s property services revenue rose 9 per cent to £87m in the year to September. The company said it had 927,000 properties listed on its sites, up almost a tenth on the year. It said it had more than 23,000 estate agents and other customers using its products, with numbers growing for 18 consecutive months.
But Mr Chesterman was cautious about the property market’s prospects. “Brexit has caused uncertainty, which has naturally led to a slowdown in property sales, but the rental market remains very strong.” He added that rental deals outnumber property sales by a ratio of three to one.
Overall Zoopla, which also owns the PrimeLocation and uSwitch sites, reported revenues of £198m, up 84 per cent on the previous year partly due to an acquisition. Pre-tax profits rose 38 per cent to £46m while earnings per share rose from 6.2p to 8.9p.
The dividend was increased from 3.5p per share to 5.2p.
Zoopla’s shares, which have risen by more than a third in the past year, outperforming those of rival Rightmove, gained more than 7 per cent on Wednesday morning.
Alongside the results, Zoopla unveiled two new investments. The company has put money into Neos, a home insurance company which uses connected devices such as alarms, smoke detectors and water detectors to monitor what is happening in the home.
It has also bought Technicweb, which provides web design and hosting services to estate agents.
“We now have significant cross-selling potential with over 23,000 partners taking at least one of our services,” said Mr Chesterman, who added that the company was “stronger and more diversified than ever”.