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Flight comparison site reports rise in turnover

Skyscanner soars to become Scotland’s first $1bn online firm

Gareth WilliamsFlight comparison website Skyscanner has revealed that it has become Scotland’s first $1 billion (£650 million) online business.

Chief executive and co-founder Gareth Williams (left) said today that he set the target when the company launched 12 years ago and he had now achieved it.

The Edinburgh-based company was valued at $800m when Silicon Valley investor Sequoia took a stake in the company in 2013. New figures today show a 42% rise in turnover as it capitalised on its move into hotel and car hire searches.

The company, headquartered in the Quartermile,  launched new apps last year that extended its offering to give customers a broader package.

Mr Williams said the on-flight revenues accounted for a quarter of income last year and he expected them to grow as a proportion of total income.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation came in at £20m, while the number of customers using the service each month rose from 25 million to 35 million.

The record visitor numbers included a 77% increase alone in visitors on mobile devices. Mobile growth continues to be key to the company’s strategy.

There has been a 61% increase in unique visitors in China as a result of the firm’s acquisition of search company Youbibi, as well as a 162% increase in mobile visitors from travellers from China which will continue to be a key part of Skyscanner’s growth strategy.

Its first hotel and car hire apps were launched globally last year, while it acquired leading Budapest-based app developer Distinction to accelerate the growth of its in-house mobile development team.

The company has been recruiting heavily and now has 600 employees – double its payroll over 18 months.

Mr Williams said: “When I started Skyscanner nearly 12 years ago, my aspiration was to become Scotland’s first $1billion internet economy business. Not only have we reached that target, but we still see ourselves as being in the early stages of our development.

“We’re a truly global company, with a talented team of over 35 nationalities, enabling us to meet the needs the travellers around the world. Over 80% of visitors to our site now come from outside our home market and our focus on meeting the needs of travellers wherever they are in the world will continue to drive everything we do here at Skyscanner. There is so much more we want to achieve in online travel and we’ve some exciting plans for the year ahead.”

Shane Corstorphine, chief financial officer, said: “It has been a transformational year for Skyscanner and we’ve seen record numbers of visitors to our website and apps. These visitors come from an increase in our market share within our existing markets, which is pleasing to see.

“Our primary focus for the year has been investing for future growth, and this approach has been making an impact for us sooner than anticipated. While our revenues continue to be led primarily by flights, the addition of new hotel and car hire products, as well as the creation of our Skyscanner for Business team, has had a key role to play in our growth, which we anticipate will increase over the next year.

“We also escalated our product development in China, and our mobile development capabilities globally through the acquisitions of Youbibi and Distinction.  Thanks to effective integration and hard work from a talented team, we are already delivering our new website to travellers in China, while mobile will continue to be central to our strategic plans this year.”

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