Belfast Telegraph

Just Eat delivers 164% rise in profits to £91.3m

Online delivery firm Just Eat has served up a 164% hike in annual profits and said it is looking to take a bigger slice of the international market as UK order growth slows.

Just Eat - which announced a deal to buy rival Hungryhouse in December - posted pre-tax profits of £91.3 million, up from £34.6 million in 2015, with group orders up 42% at 136.4 million.

It said it also expects another year of "material" growth in 2017.

But it saw UK order growth slow to 31% from 48% in 2015 despite a move to hike the amount it charges restaurants in the UK by one percentage point last April.

The group said the slowdown was as expected, given its scale in the £6.1 billion UK takeaway delivery market, and it hopes to offset this by focusing on expanding its reach with more branded restaurants chains and driving extra fees.

Chairman John Hughes said the firm is also setting it sights on tapping further into overseas markets, after its international businesses were profitable for the first time last year.

He said: "While the UK remains our largest market, we are excited by the growth we are seeing in our international businesses.

"The majority of these markets are much less penetrated than the UK and therefore represent significant opportunity for the group."

Just Eat confirmed it has begun the hunt for a new chief executive after David Buttress announced plans last month to step down due to "urgent family matters".

He will work full-time until the end of the first quarter, after which Mr Hughes will step up from chairman to executive chairman while a permanent replacement is sought.

Shares in Just Eat leapt 6% higher after the full-year profits cheer and robust outlook.

Just Eat said it expects underlying earnings to soar by up to 41% this year, as it forecast a rise to between £157 million and £163 million.

International revenues rose 49% in 2016 and it continued to expand by acquisition, snapping up businesses in Italy, Spain and Mexico during the year, with the takeover of SkipTheDishes in Canada announced in December alongside its £200 million Hungryhouse deal.

Just Eat now has 17.6 million customers and offers deliveries from 68,500 takeaway restaurants in more than 10 countries.

It saw its customer base rise by 31% - or 4.2 million - in 2016.

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