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Friday, 10 May, 2002, 12:33 GMT 13:33 UK
Lastminute.com trims losses
lastminute advertising slogan
Online retailer lastminute.com has unveiled narrower losses, and has said its UK and French sites are starting to make money.

The company said overall losses for the three months to late March narrowed to 5.3m, down by more than half compared to the same period one year earlier.

It added that its UK and French websites had reached operational profitability, three months earlier than originally expected.

Lastminute chairman Allan Leighton said the turnaround in its UK and French sites was " a key milestone to show that our business model continues to work well."

High-flier

The company on Thursday credited the improved perfomance of its UK and French operations to tight cost controls and higher business volumes.

Investors welcomed the news, marking Lastminute shares 2.p higher to 87.25p in lunchtime trade, off earlier highs.

Lastminute.com, 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.

Its share price initially soared to nearly 5, but then fell back steeply when the tech-bubble burst, hitting a low of about 20p in October last year.

The company became the butt of jokes about internet hype as its fortunes waned.

Expansion

Its subsequent success in cutting costs and edging towards profitability has cheered investors, who have bid its share price up by nearly 50p since the beginning of the year.

Lastminute, which bought up rival online travel firm Travelselect.com last month, said on Thursday it is eyeing further acquisitions.

"We are in a position to lead the consolidation of the online travel sector in Europe, " Mr Leighton said.

Lastminute subscriber numbers for the period were up 40% on the year at five million, while the number of items sold on its websites rose by over a third to 360,000.

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
Lastminute.com's losses widen
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