Yellow Pages owner Hibu readies comeback

Hibu, the Yellow Pages and owner, has launched its first major product since it rebranded to its new name a year ago, creating a new income stream in an attempt to turnaround floundering revenues.

Hibu’s online store is the first major product to launch since it rebranded a year ago.

The company has today (9 May) launched an online store to help small and medium sized businesses create desktop and mobile websites, online and Facebook stores, domain names and digital marketing campaigns “in the space of 10 minutes”, it claims.

The “do-it-yourself” site is supported by 24 hour phone and email support and an online knowledge centre.

Speaking to Marketing Week, Hibu UK CEO Richard Hanscott says: “The point is we think the clock is ticking for small business to realise their potential because they are being left behind in the online, mobile and social world.”

He said the launch is “very important” in delivering its new digital-led strategy, where the company aims to derive 75 per cent of all revenue from digital sources by 2014, and points the way to “a very successful future”.

Hanscott added: “Changing the name of the company to Hibu in itself was very exciting and as a brand we talk about being the people who help communities thrive. The change of the name gives you an opportunity for customers to reassess you again and research shows people understand the fresh new identity and our strong legacy with local business.”

Hibu does plan to invest in marketing the Hibu business store as well as separate brand activity, although Hanscott could not share any plans. Marketing in the UK is led by Jason Smith, while US-based CMO Laura Broderick leads marketing globally.

The company’s revenue fell 14 per cent to £1.6bn in the year to 31 March 2012 and it suffered a £1.2bn loss in the period. It will report results from the following fiscal year on 21 May. In its most recent quarter, to 31 December, revenue decreased 14 per cent to £314m but profit after tax increased by £2m to £19m.

Hibu is reported to have debt of around £2bn and is understood to be attempting to finalise an exchange of debt for equity with lenders.

Hanscott , however, asserted the company is not in a troubled position: “ had 14 million uniques in March and we’re growing usage, it’s a great brand. We are already a very strong digital business, 36 per cent of our revenue is digital. Our business continues to perform very well, we are a profitable company.”

He would not comment on the financial restructure or whether there will be any staff changes in the UK to compensate.



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