Analysis

Deal highlights rise of money-off voucher industry

The online money-off voucher is now an industry in itself, with millions of internet users visiting sites that can help them cut the cost of their shopping. The fast growth of the market has been highlighted by this week’s acquisition of VoucherCodes.co.uk by US company WhaleShark Media.

Cutting the cost of online shopping is now something of an industry in itself, it emerged this week, with the news that WhaleShark Media is now the transatlantic owner of leading UK voucher website VoucherCodes.co.uk.

US-based WhaleShark bought VoucherCodes.co.uk for an undisclosed sum as part of its acquisition of eConversions Ltd, which also owns Gutschein-Codes.de in Germany. With VoucherCodes.co.uk, come its 4m weekly newsletter subscribers and more than 4m monthly visitors to its website.

eConversions was founded by brothers Duncan and Max Jennings in 2004. In 2008 they worked with Richard Foister to launched VoucherCodes.co.uk into a market that was just starting to talk of recession. Three years on, it is believed to be the UK’s largest voucher code website in a fast-growing market.

Its acquisition gives WhaleShark Media, itself only launched less than two years ago in November 2009, a total audience of more than 230m visitors each year to a portfolio of sites that includes leading US coupon site RetailMeNot.com, Deals.com, Deals2Buy.com and CouponShare.com. The company, financed by venture capital firms including Google Ventures and based in Austin, Texas, expects that its websites will now attract some 150m unique visitors in 2011.

Cotter Cunningham, chief executive of WhaleShark Media, said: “eConversions provides extraordinary value to both its merchants and consumers. We look forward to combining the talents of our two teams as we pursue our shared vision of bringing the deepest discounts from the best online stores to consumers.”

The acquisition is set to be good news for consumers, according to Duncan Jennings, managing director of eConversions. He said the deal would “allow eConversions to provide our consumers with even better deals and position us perfectly for future growth and expansion.”

Doug Scott, founder of competitor DiscountVouchers.co.uk, says the deal comes at a time of “massive” growth in the voucher codes market. It claims more than 5m members and says it has seen 100% growth since the beginning of the year. “Deals such as this simply highlight the potential that exists for further growth as consumers demand more savings to help their money go further,” he said.