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Friday, 8 February, 2002, 17:06 GMT 'on track' for profit
lastminute advertising slogan
High-profile online retailer has unveiled narrower losses and confirmed that its UK and French operations should move into profit later this year.

The company said losses before tax and one-off costs for the first three months of its financial year dipped to 7.2m, down from over 11m during the same period one year earlier.

It added that turnover for the period rose to 4.8m from 2.9m the previous year.

Company chairman Allan Leighton said Lastminute was "on track to deliver operational profitability in our key UK and French businesses in the April to June quarter."

Shares in Lastminute closed up 3p at 41p.

'Significant progress', which sells holidays and event bookings online, was one of the most high-profile companies to emerge from the internet boom of the late 1990s, attracting huge interest when it floated on the stock market in 2000.

Its share price initially soared to nearly 5, but then fell back steeply when the tech-bubble burst, and the company became the butt of jokes about internet hype.

But the company's group managing director Martha Lane Fox told BBC Radio 5 Live that the whole company should soon be covering its costs.

"We've said that the group, so all the other countries that are in the Lastminute group, will also be reaching operating profitability at the end of this year, so sometime in 2003 we should be making a clear profit for the business."

Lastminute said it had seen a significant increase in the number of subscribers and customers.

It also said the customer conversion rate - defined as those people on the site changing from "lookers to bookers" - had risen to 16.1%, up from 8.9% in the same period a year before.

Last month Lastminute said its Australian business had recorded its first monthly profit during December.

The Australian site is a joint venture between Lastminute and

Martha Lane Fox,
"The group will be reaching operational profitability by the end of the year"
See also:

19 Nov 01 | Business
Lastminute in AOL tie-up
16 Jul 01 | Business
Lastminute snaps up takeaway site
16 Aug 01 | Business
Lastminute says break-even looms
23 Nov 01 | Business's losses widen
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