Travelsupermarket makes great gains

Moneysupermarket, the parent of price comparison site travelsupermarket, has reversed a £50 million loss in 2008 to record a £3.2 million profit last year.

Announcing its year-end results today the website said revenues fell 23% to £136.9 million but after a cost cutting exercise, including loosing 15% of its staff, it increased margins to 68.9% from 65.3%.

The recession particularly hit the group’s money division in which revenues from consumers were hit by the credit crunch and restriction in the availability of consumer credit.

But it reported an upturn in business this month, when television advertising campaign started actor and comedian Omid Djalili debuted, after a slow start to the year

“Trading was slow in early January, but significantly picked up in February,” A statement said. “Year to date group revenue is slightly ahead of last year, with momentum building.”

Performance to the December 31 year end will see Simon Nixon, founder and deputy chairman, pocket a £13 million dividend after a second “special pay-out” for the financial year was approved.

This saw the final dividend pay-out for the year reach £68 million or 7.11p per share. Nixon is the largest shareholder in Moneysupermarket with 52.7% share.

The group said strong cash generation and cost cutting enabled it to make the pay-out which was almost three times what it was able to pay shareholders last year.

Nixon is expected to invest at least some of the cash in his new travel interest Simonseeks.com, the reviews website.

This week Nixon has confirmed his involvement in the Travolution Summit on April 20 where he will join a panel session.

A leading figure in online travel retail, Nixon has not addressed a travel conference before.

Travolution editor Lee Hayhurst said: “Confirmation that Simon will be a part of this year’s summit adds another star name to an impressive line-up of speakers.

“Travelsupermarket is very much an established name in the online sector and Simonseeks is a growing presence, so it will be fascinating to hear what Simon has to say.”

Nixon will take place in a panel session entitled Digital Media & The Travel Industry’s Viewpoint along with Henrik Kjellberg, president, Expedia Affiliate Network and Paul Simmons, UK General Manager – EasyJet.

Already confirmed as speakers are former Tory defence secretary and BBC political commentator Michael Portillo, HSBC chief economist Dennis Turner and UK managing director of Google Matt Brittin.

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