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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 November, 2003, 11:39 GMT
Lane Fox leaves Lastminute
Martha Lane Fox
Martha Lane Fox logs off from the day-to-day running of Lastminute
Martha Lane Fox, one of the founders of Lastminute.com and icon of the dot.com era, is about to leave the company.

The 30-year-old wants to "explore other challenges", but will stay on the board as a non-executive director.

Lastminute shares fell sharply - by 17% - on news of the departure. It comes just as the firm managed to eke out its first full year of profitability.

The online travel firm made a full-year profit of just 200,000 - compared to a 16.2m loss a year earlier.


Her role as managing director will be taken on by Ian McCaig, who has been Lastminute's chief operating officer since August.

"It has always been my ambition to see the group deliver a full year of profitability. Now this has been achieved, it is the right time for the business and the right time for me to explore other challenges," Ms Lane Fox said.

Lastminute shares fell nearly 52 pence or 17.25% to 248.25p on the news.

Long road to profitability

Together with Brent Hoberman, Ms Lane Fox founded Lastminute.com five years ago.

The firm now operates in 13 countries, while its web site has nearly eight million registered users.

The online retailer specialises in selling bargain air tickets, city breaks, travel deals and "last minute" life style accessories.

Lastminute.com managed to float on the London Stock Exchange at the very height of the dot.com boom.

The cash cushion from that flotation helped the firm both to grow and survive on the long road into profitability.

Last year the firm managed to post its first quarterly profit, and has indeed managed to fulfil its promise to investors to become profitable by 2003.

However, the meagre 200,000 profit was less than some analysts had expected.

Earnings before interest, taxes and depreciation stood at 15m, more than double the 7.3m a year earlier.

Online sales also more than doubled, to 552.4m. During 2002 the company had chalked up sales of just 246m.

Ms Lane Fox still owns about 3% of the company.




WATCH AND LISTEN
Martha Lane Fox
"We're pleased, but certainly not complacent."



SEE ALSO:
Lastminute's long road to profit
22 Nov 02  |  Business
The making of Martha
25 Jul 02  |  Business



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