By SIMON HENDERY
Online auction house eBay is bolstering its New Zealand profile through the launch of a local website and an alliance with Xtra.
eBay's Australia and New Zealand managing director, Simon Smith, said the .co.nz site would make it easier to search the 5000-plus items offered locally.
Although it does not divulge country-specific trading figures, eBay has more than 22 million registered users around the world who last year traded more than $US5 billion ($12.2 billion) worth of goods.
Mr Smith, previously the premium brands director for Lion Nathan in Australia, joined eBay last October and oversees more than 20 Australasian staff based in Sydney.
In Auckland to launch the local site yesterday, he said New Zealanders were particularly fond of online trading.
"New Zealand is recognised as being one of the most global nations in the world. The population is extremely internet savvy ... It really shouldn't have been a surprise that New Zealand found and adopted eBay without any prompting."
Sam Morgan, the managing director of home-grown online auction site Trade Me, said eBay's new site was "just a marketing thing" involving the company adding a New Zealand page to the front of eBay.com.
"The functionality ... already existed through their search page."
Under eBay's alliance with Xtra, Xtra's website will include search boxes for eBay auction items.
To mark the opening of its local site, eBay yesterday announced a charity auction of the rugby boots Jonah Lomu was wearing when he scored two tries during the All Blacks' 1999 semi-final World Cup game. Bidding is open until April 5.
By SIMON HENDERY