Rentabiliweb immune from the economic crisis
Published 2009-05-25The online audience monetisation specialist has had a good 2008. Its sales soared by 127%, thanks largely to its takeover of the Montorgueil company. It has sufficient equity capital reserves and cash-in-hand to pursue its internal and external growth strategy in relaxed fashion
Interview with Jean-Baptiste Descroix-Vernier
Can you tell us a bit about Rentabiliweb?
Jean-Baptiste Descroix-Vernier : The company was founded in 2002. We are a major player in the field of online audience monetisation. Our group provides professionals and webmasters with the most complete platform of traffic monetisation services, in particular payment and micro-payment solutions. We are also developing affiliation programmes, offer an online advertising agency service and have recognised expertise in customer loyalty programmes and Direct Marketing. Rentabiliweb is also one of the foremost digital publishers in the French language, offering a range of services which cover the whole field of mass-market entertainment: community services, family games, mass-audience services and advice for web users, meeting and dating… We are in the top 10 where worldwide French-speaking audiences are concerned, with 38 million visits a month. We achieved turnover of over €56.3 million in 2008, and a net profit of €6.7 million.
What are the main topics featured on your sites?
J.-B. D. V. : Essentially we cover three areas: the area in which we have the largest audience is dating, but this is niche dating, unlike our longer-standing rivals, with carefully designed categories. We are market leader in several niche areas in this field. The second area that attracts a large audience is games. We have many games sites, some well known, others less so. I might mention Toox.com, which attracts a large community of players, and also jeu.org. Finally, we are involved in community sites, with communities ranging from persons with disabilities to those caught up in the justice system. There are many communities which have been somewhat neglected on the web, but for which we provide good services, and these enable us to build audience.
What do you see as the growth points at the present time?
J.-B. D. V. : The two most promising areas are meeting/dating and games, where publishing our own content is concerned. It is always said that the food industry is not badly affected by the economic crisis, because people will always have to eat… True, but people will also always want to play games, and meeting/dating is a key part of life.
How has 2008 gone for you?
J.-B. D. V. : We have had an excellent year. We made a net profit of €6.67 million, an increase of 38%. Our gross profit margin was up 49%, as compared to 31% in the previous year. So, as forecast, in 2008 we managed to generate large profit margins. This excellent performance demonstrates both the relevance of the strategy we have followed since 2005 and how successfully and profitably we have been able to integrate our digital content publishing activities.
You made an important acquisition in 2007, in the shape of Montorgueil. How easy has it been to integrate into the business as a whole?
J.-B. D. V. : Its integration has been a success: we increased Montorgueil’s gross profit margin by 14 points, retaining its flagship products while getting rid of some of the less desirable products we inherited. There was no need for a redundancy plan. I have always believed that the social aspect is of key importance when a merger takes place.
What is the state of your financial structure?
J. -B. D. V. : In 2008, we considerably strengthened our financial structure, increasing our equity capital by €14 million to €36.7 million. We have virtually no outstanding debts and liquid assets of €14 million, up by €6 million, and this comes almost exclusively from trading activity. We are a solid group with quick reactions, perfectly proportioned and structured in a difficult economic context.
Can you give us the typical profile of a business Rentabiliweb might be interested in buying?
J.-B. D. V. : It would in any case be a larger business than Rentabiliweb itself. We have the capacity to integrate structures larger than our own, as we have proved with Montorgueil, which was two-and-a-half times our size. Then, we have the capacity to introduce our management techniques, our profit generation techniques, to a company whose turnover is greater than ours. It’s a way of saving time.
Where do you stand internationally?
J.-B. D. V. : Leaving aside France and Belgium, where the group’s head office is located, we have two subsidiaries in Romania and one in Bulgaria, and two development studios in Russia. We have developed considerably in Eastern Europe.
Is North America now one of your priorities?
J.-B. D. V. : One day we shall have to make our presence felt in this area. We had plans for external growth in Canada, but they could not be carried through. If another suitable target comes up, we shall try to grasp the opportunity. At the same time, we are pursuing our strategy organically.
How do you see the prospects for 2009?
J.-B. D. V. : While we are very confident about our own business, I however think 2009 will be a difficult year for the market generally. For the sector as a whole, things are going to be tricky. I am thinking, for example, of online advertising… Although we may see the first signs of a recovery, there will be budgetary problems throughout the year. That’s clear. 2009 will also be problematic for the consumer, the Internet user. In our B-to-C activity, one of the growth areas at the moment are systems for increasing people’s purchasing power, such Mailorama.fr, which in any case reflects the economic crisis.