LETTING & ESTATE AGENT

Zoopla buys Mirror's property portals for £3.3m

Zoopla buys Mirror's property portals for £3.3m

Zoopla has bought the property portals owned by the Daily Mirror’s parent company, Trinity Mirror, for £3.3m.

The entire Trinity Mirror Digital Property business is now part of the Zoopla group and includes Zoomf, SmartNewHomes, HomesOverseas and Email4Property.

The overall £3.3m sales price was far less than Trinity paid for just SmartNewHomes alone when it bought the business for up to £16.6m back in 2005.

The TMDP business posted revenues of £2.9m last year, turning in an operating profit of £0.5m – far distant from the figures of Rightmove, which Trinity was rumoured to have tried to bid for.

Zoomf, which has been redirecting traffic to Radarhomes, is to be closed down.

In practice, Trinity Mirror appears to have closed it some months ago and the software provider, Homeflow, behind both Zoomf and Radarhomes, set up the divert. Both Zoopla and Radarhomes emphasised that Radarhomes is not part of the acquisition and will be unaffected by it.

Zoopla said it plans to continue to operate SmartNewHomes and HomeOverseas as stand-alone portals and will invest “significantly” in developing and marketing them as part of its multi-brand strategy.

Zoopla also said plans are already under way to further develop and rebrand Email4Property as the UK’s leading agent directory. Traffic to Zoomf will be redirected to Zoopla “in due course”.

In addition to the acquisition, Zoopla and Trinity are working on a long-term commercial agreement whereby Zoopla will power the property search for the national and regional newspaper websites.

Alex Chesterman, Zoopla’s CEO, said: “The acquisition is a great strategic fit. It allows us to continue to build our portfolio of niche brands in the digital property space like SmartNewHomes, HomesOverseas and PrimeLocation alongside our core national brand Zoopla.

“The portfolio of websites further extends our audience and registered user base for the benefit of our members and we will be investing significantly in each of these niche brands to ensure that we continue to be the most effective marketing partner for each of our members.”

Trinity Mirror’s decision to sell its digital property business is unsurprising and now leaves the Mail as the only national media group with such interests: it is the majority owner of Zoopla and also owns other businesses, including floorplan company Metropix. The Times, which had owned Propertyfinder, withdrew from the sector when it sold, also to Zoopla.

As a newspaper group, Trinity Mirror was never quite the player it had no doubt intended to be in the property portal stakes, despite owning one-quarter of Fish4.

In 2005, the year it acquired SmartNewHomes for an initial £11.3m plus a further £5.3m depending on performance, Trinity was among several said to be interested in buying Rightmove and PrimeLocation.

In the event, PrimeLocation went to the Daily Mail and Rightmove opted for a stock market flotation.

Last month Trinity Mirror posted half-year pre-tax profits of £30.3m. However, it has also slashed costs including 200 jobs, and reported a 12% drop in press advertising. Its current chief executive Simon Fox succeeded Sly Bailey who left with a reported £2.3m pay-off.