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Trade Me boss looks to stay ahead

NZN 22/02/2017 Paul McBeth

Trade Me chief executive Jon Macdonald sees more options to improve the online marketplace's retail offering but isn't ready to give the game away with Facebook's rival offering already available and the threat of Amazon still on the horizon.

The Wellington-based company has been reinvesting in its services over the past three years, but can do more to make its marketplace more attractive to sellers and buyers, Macdonald told analysts on a conference call on Thursday.

Trade Me's marketplace segment boosted earnings 7.8 per cent to $26.2 million on a 9.3 per cent gain in sales to $35.2m.

The total value of sales facilitated through the platform was up 5.6 percentto $422m, more than half of the $789m New Zealanders spent at non-store and commission-based retailing, which includes local online vendors, in the final six months of 2016.

Macdonald said Facebook was a different competitor to other rivals who've tried and failed to take on Trade Me, in that it has a very strong, ready-made network it can use. Facebook might have taken a percentage point or two in market share from Trade Me, but Macdonald said they've grown the size of the market in doing so.

Trade Me has already started looking at ways to deliver a better service, such as the buyer protection programme to cover disputed payments, or its courier service to integrate transport into the transaction.

"There's a lot we can do on how our core retail proposition is perceived by New Zealand consumers," Mr Macdonald said. "Range and price and convenience and trust - those are the four pillars."

Trade Me posted a 16 per cent gain in first-half profit to $46.1m on a 9 per cent increase in revenue to $114.9m, returning to earnings growth after spending several years reinvesting funds back into the business.

Mr Macdonald said that's put Trade Me on a much strong footing, particularly as he has a "healthy paranoia" about the threat of Amazon and Facebook and takes them "very seriously".

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