Company behind Pigsback.com acquired by Secret Escapes

Empathy Marketing said both merchants and customers will benefit from the deal

Empathy, which has grown sales by over 200 per cent since 2016, reported revenues of €5.7 million and pretax profits of €1.5 million in 2017

Empathy, which has grown sales by over 200 per cent since 2016, reported revenues of €5.7 million and pretax profits of €1.5 million in 2017

 

The Irish company behind discount deals and rewards website Pigsback. com has been bought by UK online travel group Secret Escapes for an undisclosed sum.

Established by Michael Dwyer in 2000, Empathy Marketing was one of the early pioneers in offering discounted deals and rewards online. The group’s flagship brand is Pigsback.com, although it also owns a number of related websites, including Escapes.ie, Pamper.ie and LuxuryBreaks.ie.

Empathy reported revenues of €5.7 million and pretax profits of €1.5 million in 2017. It claims more than 1 million active members in the Republic and said its services were used by about 900 merchants last year, including hotel chains such as the Radisson.

The acquisition is due to be completed this month with Mr Dwyer, Empathy’s executive chairman, chief operating officer John McDonald and other members of the management team staying on.

Mr Dwyer said he was excited about the future of the company as part of Secret Escapes.

“Our partners in hospitality and e-commerce will benefit from the significant reach from Secret Escapes group’s channels, while our members will also benefit from increased foreign travel offers,” he said.

Hotels and holidays

Secret Escapes is a UK-headquartered members-only website that offers deals on high-end hotels and holidays. Founded by Alex Saint and Tom Valentine in 2011, the company has raised $246 million (€217 million) in funding with backers including Silicon Valley Bank, GV (formerly Google Ventures) and the Singapore government-owned Temasek Holdings.

The group, which is reportedly holding talks with investment banks about a possible £500 million (€570 million) stock market flotation, has 62 million users worldwide across its various brands. It employs nearly 1,000 people and operates in 21 countries.

Strong foothold

Secret Escapes said the deal would give the group a strong foothold in Ireland, which it described as an increasingly popular travel destination.

“We are delighted to be acquiring Empathy Marketing Limited. We have long been impressed by the quality of the brand and the strength of its position in the highly attractive Irish market,” said Mr Saint, Secret Escape’s chief executive.

“Pigsback.com and Empathy’s other brands are highly complementary to our existing businesses and we see the potential for their continued growth as part of the group, as we continue to strengthen and expand our international presence,” he added.