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Yell launches first customer ecommerce sites

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Yell Group, working to reinvent itself as a leader in eMarketplaces for small and medium sized businesses in the face of declining income from its directories business, today said its first pilot ecommerce sites were now up and running.

The company, which bought an ecommerce technology company last year to bolster its transactional capabilities, said it had successfully launched its first ecommerce pilots in January.

Yell has been developing a strategy of growing an eMarketplaces business in order to provide new sources of growth to replace its now declining core directories business.

Today the company said in an interim management statement that it had now built 337,000 websites, up from 184,000, and that total digital revenue now made up 29.5% of its income, up from 25.5% at the same time last year.

In the quarter to December 31, it said, group revenues fell by 15.1% to £382.8m, while digital services income grew by 111.8% to £35.4m. Income from its digital directories – the online Yellow Pages – fell by 15.7% to £77.6m, while print and telephone directory services fell by 22% to £269.8m. Pre-tax profits, however, rose by £15m to £16.6m.

The company’s total number of digital customers rose by 9.8% to 945,000 but at the same time its digital revenue per customer fell by 2.5% to £508. Visitors to its digital directories fell by 25.5% to 42.1m, while the number of advertisers in its print directories fell by 17.5% to 235,000, spending on average 2.7% less, at £1,029.

Chief executive Mike Pocock said: “Our digital services revenue continued to grow strongly, reaching an annual run rate of over £140m. We expect this growth to accelerate as our strategic new products come to market.”

He added: “The quarter has seen good progress on implementing the new strategy as we have continued to develop our partnerships, restructure from a national to a global business model, launch new product pilots and complete our senior management team.

“During the quarter, we successfully launched local newsletter pilots, agreed a key partnership with the UK government and made progress with our partners, most notably Microsoft. In early January we also successfully launched our first ecommerce pilots.”

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