• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Soaring Skyscanner doubles revenues

TRAVEL search engine Skyscanner has nearly doubled its annual revenue to £65.8 million, thanks to a growing audience on mobile devices and more people accessing its services in Asia Pacific and the Americas.

FLYING HIGH: Gareth Williams chief executive of Skyscanner is helping his company grow. Picture: Stewart Attwood
FLYING HIGH: Gareth Williams chief executive of Skyscanner is helping his company grow. Picture: Stewart Attwood

Although accounts for 2013 have still to be audited the Edinburgh company expects its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation to have risen from £12m to around £24m.

The company said its global number of monthly unique users had more than doubled to 25 million.

In Asia Pacific, where Skyscanner operates from bases in Singapore and Beijing, monthly visitors rose 141% while in the Americas, where the company opened a Miami office last year, there was a 119% increase.

In Europe the company, headed by chief executive Gareth Williams, said there had been 64% year-on-year growth in monthly visitors.

Alongside that its app for mobile devices has now been downloaded in excess of 30 million times.

Shane Corstorphine, chief financial officer, said: "As a business more than 80% of our traffic is non-UK.

"As we are a small market locally it has forced us to understand how best we can do localisation and feel like a native site in multiple countries."

Hotel search specialist Fogg, which was acquired during 2013, has now been fully integrated into Skyscanner. That means the company is now using its own hotel search technology having previously used a product built by another business.

Mr Corstorphine said hotels and car hire search, which Skyscanner launched last year, were two areas the business hoped to see strong returns from in 2014 as part of further "ambitious growth" plans.

He said: "We can really work on optimising and growing those two areas to become travel search rather than flight search."

Further work on mobile device products is also pencilled in for this year while Mr Corstorphine pointed out Skyscanner was laying the groundwork for long-term growth by growing staff numbers alongside improvements in technology.

Around 200 staff are expected to be hired with a "chunk" of those being added to the 330 workers based in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

An additional 50 graduates and interns are likely to be given opportunities in Scotland across this year.

Mr Corstorphine said: "We are trying to invest in people and product to create the best user experience we can. We will really step up our graduate scheme.

"We are now in a place where we can invest so people can come in and do rotations [round different parts of the business]. We want to invest in people's careers for the long term."

The decision to expand into the Americas last year is expected to pay-off in the future, similar to how the opening of a Singapore office in 2011 has started to see growth in that area start to "shine".

Mr Corstorphine said: "North America and South America are huge markets. South America is a really interesting longer-term opportunity. It is fairly fragmented in terms of airlines and in terms of the ability to do price comparison, so I believe it really lends itself to a product like ours.

"This year we have seen great growth in [Asia Pacific] and in 2014 again we are investing hard in Singapore and Beijing as the opportunity is great."

Skyscanner is also keeping a close watch on emerging trends in the technology sector.

Mr Corstorphine said it had looked at the potential for in-car devices and had also done work with the Pebble smartwatch.

He said: "The Pebble was done so we can get an idea of how the product works.

"We will always continue to do that and innovate.

"We consider ourselves to be first and foremost an innovative tech business so it is really important we stay aligned with developments."

US private equity giant Sequoia Capital, which has backed the likes of Apple and Google, was said by Mr Corstorphine to have provided "great support" since taking a stake in Skyscanner in October last year.

Scottish Equity Partners and members of the Skyscanner management are among the other shareholders in the business.

Contextual targeting label: 
Business

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

210571