Uber’s growing popularity has been confirmed after new accounts revealed the taxi technology’s drivers billed more than £100m in UK fares last year, leading to a doubling of profits at its parent company.
Uber London, the taxi app’s UK holding company, recorded a profit before tax of £1.83m, up 105pc on the prior year, on the back of revenue that more than doubled.
Accounts filed at Companies House show that Uber generated sales of £23.3m in the year to December 2015, up from £11.34m. The sales figure reflects only Uber’s share of fares for trips booked on its app.
Although Uber’s exact revenue split is not known, it is believed Uber gives approximately 80pc of any fare to the driver, retaining 20pc for itself.
Based on that understanding and Uber’s £23m take, the company’s network of drivers did some £115m of business in the UK last year, the majority of which is thought to have been in the capital.
However sources indicated that due to the complicated nature of Uber's multi-national accounts structure, the actual figure will be higher than that.
The scale of growth in the business, which only began trading in London four years ago, is reflected in the amount of cash it now holds on its balance sheet £5.6m at the end of 2015, against £3.5m a year earlier.
Uber employed 105 people at the end of 2015 in its year at its head office, paying an average salary of £68,000 based on a total wage bill of £7.16m.
In addition to salaries, the new accounts show that Uber set aside some £615,614 for bonuses – the equivalent of almost £6,000 per member of staff – in the form of share-based payments.
The accounts do not state how many drivers it had on its books, or indeed how much they earned on average.
Uber classes drivers as self-employed. But based on these accounts it appears head office staff are paid, on average, almost twice what drivers can hope to earn.
As recently as this spring, Uber told potential drivers on its website that they could earn £3,300 a month – an annual salary of £39,600 before taking into account car costs and insurance – for working 55-65 hours a week.
Its current driver recruitment page simply promises “The more you drive, the more you could make.”
The GMB trade union has claimed drivers are earning as little as £5.68 an hour in London, well below the minimum wage, after costs and Uber’s commission is taken into account.
In addition, Uber deposits driver’s earnings to their bank accounts on a weekly basis, potentially allowing the company to earn interest on those deposits for up to seven days.
While the UK business is profitable, recent reports suggested that globally Uber lost $1.2bn in the first half of this year.
The losses were said to relate to the practice of paying subsidies to new drivers, a technique the company uses when trying to bulk up in a given location.
The UK accounts show that Uber paid £410,851 of corporation tax on its profits, up from £22,134 paid for 2014.
An Uber spokesman said: "This has been a period of rapid investment for Uber in the UK, expanding from just three cities at the start of last year to more than 20 today.
"While we recorded a profit here last year, globally we make a loss as we are a young company that is still expanding and investing heavily."