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Tuesday, 8 May, 2001, 14:23 GMT 15:23 UK
Lastminute sees profit within a year
brent hoberman and martha lane-fox of
Could things be looking up for
The UK's best-known internet firm has said that it expects its British and French operations to be profitable within a year.

But it warned that it will shed around 15% of its workforce in the process.

Chairman Allan Leighton said that a "head count-related" cost-reduction programme was underway, with around 50 jobs, mainly in the firm's offices overseas, facing the axe.

The pioneering online travel company was reporting losses after tax of 10.6m ($15.3m) in the three months to the end of March, about 1m less than last year.

The company more than doubled its subscriber base to more than three million people.

It also said that the number of the site's customers who are actually buying has more than doubled within the last year.

Although that figure still stands at only about one in ten people.

Transactions were worth 27.8m, the firm said.

"Our strong brand, the impact of the roll-out of our new technology platform and prudent cash and cost management all mean that remains well-placed to be a lead player in the European ecommerce marketplace," said Brent Hoberman, the company's chief executive.

Shares in the firm, which debuted with a price of 380p at its high profile flotation a year ago, fell 7% following Tuesday's announcement to 56p.

In February, the online retailer announced an alliance with the travel website of Thomas Cook, one of the UK's top travel firms.

The firm also acquired Degriftour, France's largest e-travel company last August.

The BBC's Rory Cellan Jones
"The stockmarket is still dubious"
See also:

21 Mar 01 | Business
Lastminute joins 90% club
12 Feb 01 | Business
Lastminute user numbers barely grow
04 Dec 00 | Business
Lastminute posts 36m loss
24 Nov 00 | Business
Investors turn cold on UK dot.coms
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