Classified advertising community Gumtree has broken into the list of the UK’s top 20 retail sites after strong post-Christmas growth.

The site, which started in 2000 and enjoys a strong user base Down Under, saw its share of visits increase 69% annually last month and 35% over the last six months, according to Hitwise.

Gumtree was founded by Michael Pennington and Simon Crookall to help newcomers to London find accommodation, work and a social life and was initially aimed at incoming Australians, New Zealanders and South Africans.

But the site has now expanded, starting sections for cities around the UK and the world, and Hitwise stats showed continued growth since early December 2006. Last year, growth reversed in the summer months, however.

The expansion has helped the site corner 18.4% of UK classifieds site visits, Hitwise said, with most users coming via search engine queries.

Gumtree was acquired by eBay for an undisclosed sum back in 2005.