Michael Phillips: Consumer Choices
Focus: Online price comparison
Michael Phillips, 34
Price comparison websites have changed the way people buy. ConsumerChoices.co.uk, set up five years ago, has made the most of this fact and is now the largest Ofcom-accredited comparison website in the UK. It helps UK consumers save money across 10 areas – including broadband, home phone, gas and electricity, and insurance. It’s also involved in powering leading websites such as GoCompare.com, comparethemarket.com and Confused.com, as well as around 30 other partners.
From 2005 it has seen an average annual growth rate of over 80% and this year has been a great one, according to founder Michael Phillips. “In this sector, building a significant, sustainable volume of business is crucial to generating better margins, which has enabled us to get higher-quality traffic – you get into a kind of virtuous circle, which also helps you attract better staff,” he says. Turnover has now reached £4.5m and the website can boast 950,000 unique visitors a month.
Having performed so well in the online arena, it may seem strange that Phillips is aiming to establish and build the brand offline as well, although he freely admits: “Working face-to-face has very different challenges to operating online.” But the huge potential of the offline market has proved just too tempting, and the company is looking to build partnerships in this space.
“We’re in final talks with a very large retailer whereby we would provide the technical infrastructure for them to sell broadband or home phone products in store,” reveals Phillips. Other opportunities he’s looking at include working with estate or letting agents to get phone and broadband set up for the newly moved. “Most transactions are completed offline,” says Phillips. “We want to unlock that market.”
The business rebranded as Broadbandchoices.co.uk in 2012 and the 2010 haysmacintyre Top Gun’s site has grown rapidly in the two years since being named a Young Gun. It now attracts over 1.8m visitors per month and turned over approximately £11m in 2012. The Ofcom accredited company has successfully launched in Spain, France and Germany and following a £10m investment from British Growth Fund, Phillips plans to expand further overseas.