OnTheMarket plc is the UK’s agent-backed property portal provider. It is the parent company of Agents’ Mutual, which owns and operates the UK online property portal OnTheMarket.com, launched in January 2015.
The origins and early growth of the business
Agents’ Mutual was formed in January 2013 by several leading estate and lettings agents to create a new residential property portal as a challenger to the two existing major portal groups, Rightmove and ZPG.
Agents’ Mutual was the first major new entrant to the UK property portals market since 2008.
The Company’s senior founding management has significant industry experience and expertise.
The Agents’ Mutual proposition, for a portal owned by agents which would offer a premier search service to consumers whilst charging fair prices to agents, quickly found support among a very wide group of leading independent agents across the UK. These agent firms were prepared to fund the venture by way of loan note subscriptions and to commit to list with the portal once it went live.
The portal launched in January 2015 with the properties of 4,600 branches.
Float on AIM
The entire issued ordinary share capital of OnTheMarket plc was successfully admitted to AIM on 9 February 2018.
Through a Placing to investors £30 million of new equity capital was raised to support a new growth strategy for the business.
At Admission, over 2,000 agent firms owned approximately 70 per cent. of the issued share capital.
The Directors believe that on Admission the OnTheMarket.com portal had approximately 5,500 listed agent branches and carried around a third of the total UK residential property listings.
Progress since Admission
Since Admission the Group has continued to benefit from increased agent support.
Compared with February 2018, in January 2019 OnTheMarket generated over 4 times the traffic to its portal to reach 23.5 million visits and provided its agent customers with over 7 times the number of leads.
As at 31 January 2019, the company had listing agreements with firms with over 12,500 branches.
The Group has also invested in the team, expanding the field sales team from 15 and the IT team from 21 at Admission to 40 and 52 respectively as at 1 October 2018.
With backing from its agent owners, OnTheMarket has developed unique sources of competitive advantage such as the thousands of “New & exclusive”* property listings it receives every month from its agents to display 24 hours or more before they are on Rightmove or Zoopla.
*See www.onthemarket.com/newandexclusive . Agents specify exclusivity.
Strategy for growth
OnTheMarket plc is the third biggest UK residential property portal provider in terms of traffic. It aims to deliver a market-leading, agent-backed alternative to Rightmove and Zoopla, offering a first-class service to agents at sustainably fair prices and becoming the go-to portal for serious property-seekers.
Agents provide the majority of income for the property portals and also supply the majority of their most valuable content – the property listings. As a portal with significant agent support, the Directors believe OnTheMarket.com is uniquely positioned to create an alternative to the leading incumbent portals and to provide an opportunity for a broad base of agents to participate in the equity value of their own portal.
The OnTheMarket Group is seeking to develop new consumer and agent products and services, to target new segments of the property market and to build new strategic partnerships. However, the Directors do not believe that the growth required to be a full scale competitor to the market-leading portals will mean abandoning the core principles around which Agents’ Mutual has been built.
The strategy for the Group following Admission is to increase support for an agent-backed portal further through competitive pricing for property advertisers, a premier search experience for property-seeking consumers and the targeted use of equity incentivisation. In addition, the Directors believe that the funds raised will allow for significant marketing spend to raise brand awareness as well as team expansion to provide enhanced sales, sales support, customer relations and IT development and support functions.
Additionally, it will look to develop and offer value added products to property advertisers and to target revenues from third party advertisers seeking to promote their goods and services to the consumers viewing properties on OnTheMarket.com.
Other key elements of the strategy are:
- increasing the marketing budget to up to £25 million per annum for the first two years to raise the profile of the OnTheMarket.com brand and continue to build the consumer audience;
- investing to scale up the Company’s infrastructure, especially its sales and customer relationship management organisation and its technology development;
- growing substantially the core customer base of estate and lettings agents and other property advertisers using the portal; and
- accelerating agent recruitment and broadening agent backing with the targeted use of equity incentivisation for key agents committing to support the portal with long term listing agreements.
Consumer property search service
Launched in January 2015, OnTheMarket.com is the simple way to search for property. The website and its apps aim to provide all potential buyers, sellers, landlords and tenants with an exceptional property search service.
The technology is state-of-the-art and our website was the first major portal seamlessly to adapt with state-of-the-art “responsive” technology to fit all screen sizes. OnTheMarket.com aims to satisfy property-seekers with a more enjoyable, cleaner, fresher, more focused approach to searching. Without unnecessary information and distracting clutter, the service concentrates on presenting, at their best, hundreds of thousands of homes for sale or for rent from thousands of estate and letting agents at all price points across the UK as well as Overseas and Commercial search services.
Many agents choose to launch their new UK residential properties exclusively with OnTheMarket.com first – 24 hours or more ahead of advertising them on any other portal – and these are prominently featured as “New & exclusive”*.
All the properties at OnTheMarket.com are on the market with estate or letting agents rather than being marketed directly by private sellers or landlords.
Professional tools and reporting in one place
For agents, the portal has additional functionality and accessibility through “OnTheMarket Expert” which gives access to tools enabling manual property uploading and editing of property details and office/firm details. Functionality includes property-level reporting of portal activity and lead generation which can be operated by multi-branch agents at both branch and agent level with central control access permissions. Agents may opt to upload manually or to instruct their data feed provider to engage with the portal to arrange automated uploads.
In March 2019, OnTheMarket announced that a beta version of its “Market Appraisal Guide” had been added to the suite of agent tools in another step towards matching the market leader’s core agent product set.
The Guide sits alongside the existing reporting tools and enables agents to access sold prices, comparable properties, local information and maps and create a report for vendors and landlords which carries their own branding in conjunction with OnTheMarket’s.
The Board comprises the following five Directors.
Non-Executive Chairman Biography
Chris joined OnTheMarket as its Non-Executive Chairman in October 2017 as the Company prepared for its proposed Placing and IPO on AIM.
Christopher has considerable listed board experience across a range of sectors. He has, since 2015, been Senior Independent Director for The Rank Group Plc, where he also serves on both the Audit Committee and the Nominations Committee.
He is Non-Executive Chairman of three other AIM-listed companies, at all of which he serves on key governance committees. He took both XL Media plc and TechFinancials, Inc to market and has since May 2018 chaired Team17 Group plc.
Christopher joined Ladbroke Group plc in 1991, becoming Managing Director of its Racing Division in 1995. In 2000, he became Chief Executive of Ladbrokes Worldwide and joined the Board of the rebranded Hilton Group plc, becoming Chief Executive of Ladbrokes plc, following the sale of the Hilton International Hotel division, until 2010. He has also served as Non-Executive Director at Spirit Pub Company plc (from 2011 to 2015) and as Senior Independent Director at Quintain Estates and Development plc (from 2010 to 2015). Prior to joining Ladbrokes plc (formerly Hilton Group plc and Ladbrokes Group plc), Christopher held senior marketing positions at Allied Lyons plc.
Chief Executive Officer Biography
Ian joined the business in April 2013 as founding CEO.
After holding a number of senior banking roles over 15 years within NatWest Group, the last five years of which as Managing Director of Lombard Bank, Ian founded PrimeLocation.com in 2000 and, as Chief Executive, led its growth and ultimate sale to DMGT in 2006. He remained with the business until 2008,
when he left to pursue other interests.
From 2012, he worked with the agent founders of Agents’ Mutual to develop its strategy and proposition and led the recruitment of the broader group of agents who provided funding for the venture in early 2014. Ian has driven the successful launch and growth of the OnTheMarket.com business and led its demutualisation in 2017 and Admission to AIM alongside the capital raise on 9 February 2018.
Commercial Director Biography
Helen joined Agents’ Mutual in August 2013, having previously been Sales & Marketing Director and part of the founding management team at PrimeLocation.com. Helen began her career at Citibank and later joined Lombard Bank, where, as Marketing Director, she developed the Lombard Direct brand with national TV, press and direct marketing campaigns to achieve a market-leading position. Helen has been central to the planning, development and growth of OnTheMarket.com, with responsibility for sales, member relations and marketing.
Chief Financial Officer Biography
Clive joined the business in March 2017. Having qualified as a chartered accountant with PriceWaterhouse he spent 12 years working in investment banking with UBS before working six years at ThruVision, a security technology business, initially as CFO and then also as CEO. Clive then spent three years as CEO/CFO at Croft Associates, a business specialising in containers for the transport and disposal of radioactive materials.
Non-Executive Director Biography
Ian joined OnTheMarket as a Non-Executive Director in October 2017 as the Company prepared for its proposed placing and admission to AIM. Ian has extensive listed board experience both from his executive career as a senior audit partner with Ernst & Young and from his subsequent roles. He served as Independent Non-Executive Director at Southern Water from September 2018 to February 2019.
He was appointed to the board of Paysafe Group plc (previously Optimal Payments plc) in 2010 as a Non-Executive Director and served as Chairman of the Audit Committee until its sale in December 2017.
He also served, from 2009 to 2014, as a Non-Executive Director of Umeme Limited, the privatised national power distribution company of Uganda, which was listed on the Uganda and Nairobi Securities Exchanges in 2012. Ian established and chaired Umeme’s Audit Committee.
Prior to this, he was a senior audit partner with Ernst & Young London until 2009, specialising in FTSE-listed and multinational companies.
Ian is also an active mentor at Board Mentoring, supporting executive and non-executive directors stepping into new situations and roles.
Key senior management
The other members of the executive team are:
Chief Technology Officer Biography
Morgan joined the business in November 2013 as part of the founding management team. Previously, Morgan was IT Director at World Trade Group, IT Director at James Villas and IT Director at PrimeLocation.com. Morgan has been central to the planning, development and growth of OnTheMarket.com, with overall responsibility for portal development and operations as well as for the technical support team.
Brand Director Biography
John joined in February 2014 as part of the founding management team. He previously created and led a marketing and communications agency, Bespoke Communications, prior to which he had been a Board Director at four major London and Paris advertising agencies. John was closely involved with the brand development and marketing of PrimeLocation.com as well as of OnTheMarket.com, where he has been responsible for brand development and communications, including advertising, PR and portal design.