PhotoBox docks with Moonpig as Egg heads north will finally bring home the bacon, following a £120m deal with PhotoBox. But fellow dotcom boomer Egg continues to take a beating...

by Dave Waller
Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012
Moonpig was founded as an online greetings card retailer in 1999, just before the peak of the original dotcom boom, and has been hard to ignore since - thanks largely to its catchy (or annoying) sing-song ‘Moonpig!’ tag-line. But it has spent a good chunk of that time in more down-to-earth mode: it was loss-making till 2005. Now the jingle is of cash accumulating, as the online personalised greeting card company concludes its £120m sale to personalised photo company PhotoBox.

You could call it a giant leap for personalised greeting cards. Indeed, the market’s finally catching up with its futuristic vision: even those slow on the uptake are starting to see the benefits of going online for greetings products, given how much you can do to personalise them.

The two companies already have around six million customers between them, and both are in pretty good shape. Moonpig’s sales rose by 21% to £38m in the year to April 2011, delivering £8m profit, while PhotoBox’s sales rose about 30% last year.

And there’s still plenty of uncharted space to aim for: PhotoBox reckons a third of the €3bn photo printing industry has already been captured by e-commerce sites. But only about 4% of UK sales of greetings cards are made online, excluding larger packs of Christmas cards.

Yet it’s not all great news this week for dotcom veterans. Take Egg, the UK’s first internet bank, which was launched in 1998 by Prudential. Having already had its credit card assets sold off to Barclays by owner Citigroup back in March, the scramble continues with Yorkshire Building Society buying the Egg brand and its mortgage and savings business.

It’s all part of Citi’s drive to offload non-core assets after its bailout during the credit crisis. It should be good for Yorkshire: the Egg businesses comprise a £2.5bn ($4.1 billion) savings book and a £430m mortgage book, and its new owner reckons Egg will widen its products and range of services, and improve the company's funding position.

For the rest of us it’ll make a refreshing counter to the nonsensical dotcom names that these companies took, which have since become ubiquitous. Moonpig is one thing, at least the Egg will now come with a good old fashioned flat cap and whippet.

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