Peterborough-based comparethemarket.com owner enjoys record sales but success is not “Simples” says boss

Alexsandr Orlov and Sergei  - the two meerkats are the public face of the successful comparethemarket.com comparison site.
Alexsandr Orlov and Sergei - the two meerkats are the public face of the successful comparethemarket.com comparison site.

Peterborough-based insurance giant BGL Group, the owner of the UK’s largest price comparison website comparethemarket.com, has reported a record rise in sales.

The company, in Bakewell Road, Orton Southgate, saw revenue rise by 14 per cent in the first half of the 2016/17 financial year.

Matthew Donaldson, chief executive of the BGL Group.

Matthew Donaldson, chief executive of the BGL Group.

Chief executive Matthew Donaldson says its success is not “simples” and has been driven by a powerful digital-based focus and the hard work of great staff.

It is the first time the company, which employs 1,800 people in Peterborough, has released half year figures and comes as the group eyes a stock market flotation later this year.

Following flotation, which could value the company at several billion pounds, the regular publication of results will be a requirement.

The company is keen to get into the habit of coping with these demands.

Chief executive Matthew Donaldson said: “We will have the capability to list on the stock exchange at some point this year.

“It will then be at our discretion when we float.”

As part of its preparation for listing on the London Stock Exchange, BGL has transformed the business by ramping up its digital offering and focusing on price comparison and insurance distribution and outsourcing.

This has involved the sale of its legal services business Minster Law, and sub-scale Dutch price comparison website, HoyHoy and sold motorcycle insurance broking business, Bennetts.

Mr Donaldson said: “We’ve had a record start to our financial year and have recorded significant growth across our business.

“In comparethemarket.com this growth has been supported by a focus on driving customer loyalty and, in our Insurance Distribution and Outsourcing (IDO) division, we continue to maintain and build successful partnerships with trusted brands.

“Across all of our operations we continue to innovate and improve our digital offer for customers, and we now have over 2.4 million IDO customers registered to our online self-service centre.”

The figures show that comparethemarket.com achieved revenue growth of 15 per cent over the half year.

Its France-based LesFurets.com saw record revenues up 34 per cent year-on-year.

The company’s IDO division, which includes online life insurer BeagleStreet.com, an affinity partnerships business and own brands, Budget and Dial Direct, delivered revenue growth of nine per cent.

Mr Donaldson said: “The meerkat marketing campaign has been phenomenally successful. It is definitely not tired and there is plenty more exciting marketing to come.

“We are delighted with comparethemarket.com. It is exceptional and is the market leading brand.

“It has achieved a total of £1 billion savings for customers over the year.

He added: “Our success is definitely not “simples”.

“It is due to our great people who make the difference and deliver the results.”

The company has also filed accounts for the 2015/16 financial year, showing revenue up 11 per cent year-on-year and profit before tax up 25 per cent.