OnTheMarket’s new chief executive has posted his first full year’s trading figures - and they suggest the portal is making progress in terms of profitability and agency numbers.
Jason Tebb, who became CEO late last year, says: “Despite the unprecedented conditions we have faced, we have continued to grow the business and achieve profitability. Our operational and financial progress is a testament to the efforts of team and, since joining OnTheMarket in December, I have been incredibly impressed by them and the underlying strength of the business.”
The average total number of advertisers - chiefly agents and house builders - has shown a five per cent rise in the year to the end of January; portal visits have shown a 13 per cent increase; and the total average number of leads per advertiser have risen from 96 to 117.
Average revenue per advertiser - always a key measure for portal activity - was up 16 per cent over the year. Operating profit - which was significantly in negative territory a year ago - is now a modest £1.2m in the black.
Much of the year reported in these figures included Coronavirus and for some period the closure of the housing market. Once property market restrictions were lifted, the second half of OTM’s trading year showed more significant growth - visits and average monthly leads per advertiser were up 30 and 31 per cent respectively to £151m and 130.
And in an important symbol - in contrast to some property industry companies - OnTheMarket says it will repay to HMRC the furlough grants of £449,000 it took temporarily under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
Since Tebb took over, and mostly outside of the period reported in today’s figures, the company has defined a new vision as what it calls “a differentiated, technology-enabled property business providing services for agents, housebuilders, advertisers and consumers.”
In a bid to offer what it describes as best-in-class services, it has since late winter acquired the remaining 80 per cent of PropTech firm Glanty, entered into a media partnership with large-scale news publisher Reach plc, entered into agreements with PropTech firms Canopy and Sprift to provide agent customers with free tenant referencing checks and enhanced market appraisal guides, and enhanced OnTheMarket’s own functionality.
Tebb tells shareholders this morning: “OnTheMarket has come a long way since its launch by agents in 2015. From this position of strength, it is now time for the next stage of our development and our new strategy is based on a clear vision of building a tech-enabled property business.
“We will become more than just a portal and provide best in class products and services that benefit agents, housebuilders and consumers.
“We have achieved a great deal in the last six months. We have engaged and listened to agents. We know what they want and their support and belief in the business remains strong.”
Although few figures have been given for trading activities since January - and thus outside today’s trading statement period - OTM says it’s had a positive start to the year and it anticipates a higher rate of conversion to turn the portal’s long-standing discounted deals with some agents into paying contracts.
The statement says: “Having achieved profitability in [the past year] the Board expects to be able to invest further operationally into the business and return to normalised levels of marketing expenditure without damaging the Group's prospects for the foreseeable future, assuming no materially adverse unforeseen circumstances arise …
“The Board believes that the Group's recent considerable operational and financial progress, together with a substantial, loyal advertiser base, provides a strong platform for the implementation of its strategy, in order to drive long-term profitable growth.”