Uber drives up profits in Britain despite battles with regulators
UBER has increased revenues for its UK business by 61pc despite spending the year battling regulators across the country.
The ride-hailing app was threatened last year with the loss of its London licence by the city’s transport regulator and issued with suspensions in several towns and cities. Yet Uber still in- creased its revenues to £59.5m for the year ending December 2017, up from £36.9m the year before, according to its accounts.
Profits grew by £1.6m to £4.6m. London has been one of Uber’s most important international markets outside the US. The ride-hailing company turned a profit in the UK even as it withdrew from costly operations in south-east Asia, targeting profitability ahead of a planned 2019 float.
Uber has faced a struggle with regulators over its future in London. In September last year, Transport for London refused to renew Uber’s licence over issues of passenger safety, although the company was allowed to keep operating while it appealed. The ruling was overturned by a court in June.
The company has also seen several rivals launch in the city, all of which let riders book private-hire vehicles through smartphone apps.
Uber faces a further court date in October against drivers who have claimed workplace rights from the company. Uber has maintained its drivers are self-employed.
An Uber spokesman said: “We continue to invest in expanding across the UK with more than five million riders and 60,000 licensed drivers now using our app. Over the last year we’ve introduced a number of improvements for both passengers and drivers, from 24/7 telephone support to free sickness, injury, maternity and paternity protections.”
Uber is planning to expand its UK app to include public transport and bike sharing. Its UK business also includes its food delivery venture Uber Eats.
Meanwhile, Airbnb, the online holiday booking platform and fellow US tech giant, reported it had boosted revenues at its Uk-based company.
Airbnb Payments Ltd, which accounts for sales of all Airbnb’s operations outside of the US, China and India, recorded revenues of $280m (£213m) last year, up from $194m. It recorded international profits of $1.2m and paid $282,000 in UK corporation tax.
Like Uber, Airbnb is targeting an initial public offering in 2019. The two bumper floats could see Uber valued at $72bn and Airbnb at $30bn.