UK-based buying club Keynoir has been acquired by Time Out for an undisclosed fee.

Time Out says that this is just one in a range of product-specific acquisitions that will boost its foothold in the recommendations and booking market. 

Paul Shaw, e-commerce director for Time Out, told Business Matters that this strategy will strengthen the company’s position prior to commencing a national roll-out in 2012.

As part of this, Time Out also recently bought LikeCube, a software recommendations business, integrating its North American team into Time Out New York. eBay acquired Hunch for a predicted $80m this week amid a similar move to upgrade its product recommendations based on social behaviour across the web.

Keynoir differentiates itself from the likes of Groupon and LivingSocial by offering handpicked deals, adding an air of exclusivity to the deals it provides.

The business will be folded into Time Out’s transaction team, running alongside the publisher’s daily deals service that was launched in May to more than 3 million unique users in London.

Philip Wilkinson, co-founder and managing director of Keynoir, is now working on Kopi – a similar group-buying business that delivers gourmet coffee to users every month in packaging reminiscent of online snack business Graze.

The difference here is the type of relationship you have with your email subscribers. Keynoir with Timeout now has more discerning customers who are not only just interested in experiences but also willing to buy them too.”

He also said that this wasn’t exactly a ‘Groupon’ style exit, but that it’s the right fit for the business and that investors & employees have done well from it.  

While the founders (myself and Glen Drury) would have liked to see it continue to grow on its own, the lack of follow-on investment and a competitive space meant that staying independent wasn’t a viable option long term.”