The founder of financial comparison website Moneysupermarket.com Simon Nixon is £14m wealthier today after the firm – which he stopped running in 2008 but still owns a majority stake – paid out a special £20m dividend to shareholders on top of its interim dividend.
The 3.93p per share handout was possible because of double digit growth in revenue and profits, according to chief executive officer Peter Plumb. "We have had a great six months," he said. "We have seen strong trading momentum through the period." The interim dividend increased by 15 per cent to 1.5p per share.
The website invested heavily in technology and marketing in the six months to 30 June. It spent £2.7m improving technology and £5.2m in offline marketing, such as sponsoring the TVreality show Britain's Got Talent, toposition itself as a mainstream brand.
It also scrapped its TV ad campaign which featured comedian Omid Djalili and replaced it with a more downmarket approach to rival the popularity of Go Compare's opera-singing star and Compare The Market's meerkats.
Sales over the period climbed 24 per cent to £88.7m with profit after tax climbing from £2m in the first six months of 2010 to £8.8m. Mr Plumb said he was confident about future prospects for price comparison sites. "More and more consumers are going online to find the best deals," he said.
The number of visitors to Moneysupermarket's personal finance site increased 4 per cent in the six months to the end of June and the number of transactions – measured by completion of application forms for products or movement from the site to partners' sites – climbed by 43 per cent. July's trading was also positive with revenue 15 per cent ahead of last year, the company said.