Recruitment firm Saongroup.com has made its first foray into online dating with the takeover of Irish website Maybefriends.com.
The move marks a new departure for Saongroup.com and potential new investment for Maybefriends.com, which has been in operation since 2004. Saongroup.com has operations in Ireland through Irishjobs.ie, jobs.ie and NIjobs.com. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.
Managing director of Maybefriends.com Jill McGrath said the purchase had a certain synergy to it and could be a match made in heaven for both sites. “Recruitment sites match people with jobs; dating sites match people with people, so they aren’t all that different really,” she told ENN.
Chairman of Saongroup.com Leslie Buckley said the company planned to grow the business “aggressively”.
“We are also looking to develop our online dating business internationally, mirroring the successful business model that has worked for Saongroup.com in the online recruitment sector. With a worldwide online dating market of EUR1 billion and online dating in Europe expected to reach EUR650 million by 2012, this diversification represents major growth prospects for Saongroup.com,” said Buckley, in a statement.
McGrath said the new investment would be put to use in both new products and marketing. “It will allow us to expand at the rate we want to expand at,” she said. “We’ll be looking at product development and marketing and taking it to the next level.”
McGrath described the online dating industry as an “emerging market”, despite the fact that it has been around for some time. “There is a change in people’s outlook,” she said. “It was almost a niche market before.”
Online dating has certainly increased in popularity with an growing number of websites aimed at Irish singles springing up. The latest recruit is Independent News & Media (INM), which recently signed a deal with online matchmaking service Parship. Under the agreement, Parship will integrate its psychometric dating service into INM’s main website, www.independent.ie, under the www.independentsingles.ie banner.
The potential market for dating services is quite large, with close to 850,000 single adults aged 25 years and over in Ireland.