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Small businesses prosper in eBay’s millionaires’ club

This is an archived article - we have removed images and other assets but have left the text unchanged for your reference’s millionaires’ club is growing fast, with the number of million-pound businesses trading on the auction website set to grow tenfold since the start of the recession.

In just 2010, the number of businesses turning over more than £1m is expected to double to 127, from 66 in 2009. Seven of those only started trading through the site in 2009.

eBay says the news signals the strong role small businesses play in the UK’s e-commerce industry. It also follows eBay’s recent financial results which showed the UK business was growing faster than the rest of the e-commerce market.

The 127 businesses expected to turn over more than £1m in 2001 have averaged turnover growth of more than £600,000 each. Twenty-five of them should see their turnover rise by 100% or more in 2010, and 14 by more than 200%. Eleven, indeed, will see their turnover rise by more than 300%.

Jody Ford, eBay director of SMEs on eBay, said: “eBay has always backed British entrepreneurs and it is tremendous to see this surge in the number of thriving online SMEs and start-ups at a time when the rest of the economy has been struggling.

One of them is Oldham entrepreneur Warren Blayds, who has seen his business, Online4baby, grow to be one of eBay’s top ten UK businesses, and the largest nursery products business on the site. His annual turnover of £4m has more than doubled since 2007 and comes entirely from fixed price sales on eBay.

Before he started the business, Blayds was working in an office job. Today, he expects to buy larger premises for the business to house a growing staff. Blayds said: “Online4baby evolved from the foundations of a family business established in 1987. As the company grew in popularity and as more customers demanded immediate delivery, we shifted operations onto eBay.

“Over the last few years, we’ve had to become more competitive and make stricter purchasing decisions, to ensure our products remain cheaper than the exact same items found on the high street,” he said.

Another member of eBay’s millionaire’s club is Jeremy Wicks, who sells consumer electronics and specialises in b-grade DJ and pro-audio equipment through his business, Why Buy New UK.

He started listing goods for sale through eBay in 2003 but in May moved a greater percentage of his stock there. Now he sends out more than 1,500 eBay orders each month employs 22 full-time staff, and expects to turn over £4m this year. Wicks’ staff continues to grow and he has taken on more staff to meet the growing demand for his products.

Ford said: “The success of these million-pound businesses should encourage all entrepreneurs, from those with a longstanding business plan to graduates or school leavers with a great idea, as it shows that if you have a good business model and understand the demands of your customers you can be an overnight success.”

Some 17m people worldwide visit every month, buying from private sellers and the 160,000 small businesses who trade through the site. In the last two years, more than 25,000 people have set up their own businesses on eBay UK. was founded in 1999 and today has 17m live listings, with fixed price goods accounting for 56% of items sold.

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