looks for pan-European agency

LONDON -, the online price-comparison site, is in talks with UK agencies about its pan-European direct marketing ahead of the Christmas retail season.

The appointment will be the first for the US company in the UK, as it looks to grow beyond the US market. was bought by eBay for $634m (£337m) in August 2005, and is now available in the UK, Germany, France and Australia.

The website enables customers to compare the prices of online retailers and merchants before buying. It offers price comparisons on a range of categories spanning clothing, computers, furniture and accessories.

The appointed agency will be briefed to help the website grow its European presence and develop direct mail and online CRM programmes ahead of the Christmas rush. It is also thought the winning agency will be asked to target merchants in the UK and abroad. The company has access to 85% of the biggest online merchants in the US, and is seeking to increase its European retail coverage. is predominantly in the US, but is now looking to raise its popularity in Europe and Australia. It attracts about 50m unique hits a month across the five websites. is one of the biggest price-comparison website in the UK, where its main rival is fellow US site Shopzilla.

Last November, Shopzilla, which was bought by US publisher EW Scripps for $600m (£318m), began a search for a UK advertising agency (Marketing, 9 November 2005)., which is based in California, was born out of two separate companies, DealTime and Epinion. The two sites merged and rebranded as in 2003.

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