More headwind for Schibsted on home turf

22 May 2017

More trouble is brewing for Schibsted on its home turf of Sweden. Last year it lost the control battle for real estate site Hemnet, and this year things are shaping up for a battle in the auto vertical.

Sweden’s auto dealers have united to create a new digital marketplace for used autos called Wayke. The organization behind the still-to-be-launched classified site is the Swedish Association for Motor Retail Trades and Repairs (MRF), a neutral organization for professional car dealers with 1,500 members in Sweden. And at the same time, dealer organization for Volvo, Dacia, Renault, VW, Skoda, and Seat.

The battle is slowly taking shape: From today a Wayke team will visit 20 Swedish cities to present the idea to the dealers. Inspiration comes from Hemnet, which was created by real estate agents, and Swish, a mobile payment app used by all Swedish banks.

Representatives of dealers admit that they have been late in responding with their own digital reply. In neighboring Denmark dealers created Biltorvet to take the fight to Bilbasen, but Bilbasen cleverly fought back by changing its monopolistic behavior.

This time so much more is at stake for Schibsted. Classifieds are not only about putting out ads, it is about the understanding of customers and getting hold of data. MRF promises the marketplace Wayke will be a neutral marketplace.

MRF has a very strong position among dealers. It is, among others, running a system of guarantees for buyers of second-hand cars from dealer members of all different car brands, which puts a quality stamp on transactions.

This is not the only dark cloud in the Schibsted sky in Sweden. The competition authorities are still investigating the relationship between the dealer site Bytbil.com and Blocket. Every dealer wants to list its cars on Blocket. To do that, they have to advertise on the other Schibsted-owned marketplace Bytbil.com – a rule that could be revised by the negotiation process currently underway between Schibsted and the anti-trust authority.

Sticking to this solution for too long might also force dealers into the arms of the organizers of the new dealer site, who recently launched a site to introduce the idea and the plans to dealers.

Bytbil.com generated revenue of SEK 88 million in FY2015 ($10 million U.S.) and an EBIT of SEK 42 million. Blocket does not publish numbers for its verticals, but ads from dealers certainly land between SEK 100 and 200 million in revenue, with an EBIT of around 50 percent.

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Lars Herlin

Lars Herlin is an AIM Group senior analyst for Europe, and our expert on Schibsted. He had a long career in journalism at Expressen, Svenska Dagbladet and VeckansAffärer, and served as managing editor and later managing director of Gotlands Allehanda.