Belfast Telegraph earnings surge 26%

By Holly Williams

Price comparison website saw earnings leap 26% higher last year thanks to a surge in the number of households switching energy providers after the recent round of bill hikes.

Revenues from energy switching trebled in the last three months of the year as the 'big six' gas and electricity providers hiked tariffs, prompting consumers to shop around for the best deals.

The group said strong revenues from energy switching and its travel arm offset a slower year for savings revenues, which fell 9% after the state-run Funding for Lending scheme offering banks cheap finance to boost mortgage lending hit deposit rates in the market.

Insurance business also slowed in the second half of the year due largely to changes made by search engine Google, which it said "penalised" the group.

But overall underlying earnings rose to £84m, up from £66.5m in 2012, helped also by the first full year of ownership of (MSE), bought in September 2012.

It said MSE contributed £6.1m to group revenues and £13.3m to underlying earnings last year.

Peter Plumb, chief executive of, said: "We invested across the business last year and it paid off nicely."

Energy switching helped its home services division notch up a 93% jump in revenues last year to £22m, helped also by the launch early last year of MSE's Cheap Energy Club service, which now has more than one million members.

Sales also rose sharply in the group's travel business, where revenues lifted 35%.

Belfast Telegraph