Auto Trader shrugs off new rival but admits it should have spent more on marketing

 

Car advertising business Auto Trader today dismissed a new online rival from the Sunday Times as “niche”, but admitted it should have spent more on marketing in the face of mounting competition.

Zillah Byng-Maddick, interim chief executive of parent company Trader Media Group, said the Sunday Times’ Driving.co.uk is “not really having much impact” since its launch  in October.

“I think they’ve got maybe 40,000 [vehicles] in stock. We’ve got 410,000. We’re generating 400 times as many page views compared to Driving.co.uk.”

Byng-Maddick added that Auto Trader, Britain’s biggest car website with 10.9 million users, also had double the stock of eBay.

But she has upped annual marketing spend by a “significant” amount to £15 million. “Last year, we didn’t spend as much and I think that was wrong,” explained Byng-Maddick, who stepped up from chief financial officer in September when chief executive John King abruptly quit after five years.

The marketing is focusing on Auto Trader’s “comprehensiveness” and 35-year history — a dig at eBay and Driving. Trader is owned by Apax Partners and Guardian Media Group, parent company of the loss-making Guardian newspaper, which relies on the car business for income.

Apax and GMG took out £200 million last year through a refinancing, leaving Trader with net debt of £637 million. Underlying earnings rose 1% to £70.7 million in the six months to September. Pre-tax profits were £16.9 million.

Underlying revenues fell 3.7% to £127.7 million, largely because of declines in print. Digital generated 90% of profit, although the print magazine is still profitable, despite circulation halving to 40,000 in  a year.

Byng-Maddick offered no clue about when the owners would appoint a permanent chief executive.

She warned the wider market is tough. The number of used cars aged one to three years old for sale is close to a low of 5.5 million compared with 7.4 million in 2007. “We think the market’s at the bottom,” she said.

 

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Senior SEO Executive

£24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior SEO Executive is requi...

Recruitment Genius: Online Customer Service Administrator

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Online customer Service Admi...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketing Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global, industry leading, ...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk