Belfast Telegraph

Zoopla 'stronger than ever' as profits soar by 44%

Online property website Zoopla has booked a record rise in profits and pushed into the insurance and web design markets with two new deals.

The FTSE 250 company said profits had jumped 44% to £36.7 million in the year to the end of September, up from £25.4 million in 2015.

Revenues also soared 84% to £197.7 million over the period, as it racked up 600 million visits to its websites and apps throughout the year.

It comes as the firm announced that it had swooped for the estate agent website design business Technicweb and signed an exclusive partnership with connected home insurance provider Neos.

Shares soared more than 7% on the London Stock Exchange, as the firm's management said they "remained comfortable" with the market expectations for the next financial year.

Founder and chief executive Alex Chesterman said the group was "stronger and more diversified than ever" after a successful year.

"We continue to lead innovation in the property and comparison markets as we work towards fulfilling our mission of providing the most useful resources for consumers when finding, moving and managing their home and being the most effective partner for related businesses."

The fresh push into new markets follows its move last year to buy energy comparison website uSwitch.

The firm said consumers banked more than £320 million in savings on their energy bills over the period after comparison leads rose by 22% to 30.3 million.

It said its property services division had traded in line with expectations and seen 18 months of consecutive growth from its UK agency partners.

On the new deals, Mr Chesterman said Essex-based Technicweb would make Zoopla the largest provider of estate agency websites in the UK, while the deal with Neos marked another partnership with the UK's "most innovative tech start-ups".

Shore Capital analyst Roddy Davidson said the firm's positive momentum helped reinforce confidence in Zoopla's growth potential.

He added: "W e expect the group to be a prominent beneficiary of structural growth in digital property advertising and online switching activity.

"We also like its strategy of bringing together its property and price comparison businesses to unlock cross-selling opportunities, create competitive advantage, and offer a potentially compelling proposition to consumers in the home services market."