Cupid says future looks positive as profits halve

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Dating website operator Cupid today insisted that the future for the industry “remains positive”, despite seeing its profits more than halve during the first half of the year.

The Edinburgh-based firm posted an underlying pre-tax profit of £2.6 million for the six months to 30 June, down from £5.9m a year earlier, although revenues grew 12.4 per cent to £43.4m.

Chief executive Bill Dobbie said Cupid had faced “a number of distractions” during the period, including allegations that members of staff posed as customers to persuade users to take out subscriptions. An independent review found these claims were “without substance”, Dobbie said.

The company also sold its “casual dating” business – including websites such as Benaughty.com and Flirt.com – to co-founder Max Polyakov in a deal worth £45.1m, and Dobbie said it would book a “substantial gain” on the sale during the second half.

He added: “The future remains positive for online dating. On both sides of the Atlantic and in developing economies we see continuing evidence of growth fuelled by an ever-growing social acceptance of the offering and the ubiquity of mobile. The UK market is now estimated at £170m, with over 5 million people using online dating and one in five dates beginning online.

“We have a busy period ahead of us but I am confident that we remain well positioned to become a significant player in the growing online dating market.”