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Wednesday, 31 May, 2000, 09:56 GMT 10:56 UK
QXL upbeat despite losses
QXL logo
Europe's largest online auctioneer, QXL, has reported a sharp rise in business and a small dip in its operating losses.

The firm, which recently announced plans to merge with European rivals Bidlet and, said the gross value of its auctions jumped 87% to 9.7m ($14.56m) during January to March this year.

QXL online auction screenshot
The value of auctions on the QXL site is rising rapidly

And by the end of April the number of registered members had grown by 50% to 610,000. If the number of people getting e-mail updates is added, QXL boasts 681,000 users.

The operating loss dropped by 300,000 to 11.1m quarter on quarter. However, for the whole year losses were a massive 32.8m - up from 2.1m before exceptionals.

QXL's chief financial officer Robert Dighero said: "We are confident that the strong organic growth that we have demonstrated, together with the major acquisitions we have proposed with Bidlet and, put us in a prime position to capitalise on the fast-growing European online auction market opportunity."

We are funded for the next 12-24 months, but we will probably be coming back to the market after that time

Robert Dighero, QXL chief financial officer

The auctioneer now expects to move into profit within two or three years, a year earlier than expected, thanks to its acquisitions in continental Europe.

It expects its money to last the next one to two years, before it has to ask shareholders for money again.

"We are funded for the next 12-24 months, but we will probably be coming back to the market after that time," Mr Dighero said.

The results cover a period when QXL moved away from selling its own inventory of goods in favour of consumer-to-consumer auctions.

Rival to eBay?

QXL shares rose over 13% to 127 pence on its results.

One e-commerce analyst said the figures suggested that QXL combined with its German acquisition easily rivals eBay for the number of goods sold in Europe.

"The debate on QXL is who will eventually dominate in Europe and that's still open," Elizabeth Barton, analyst at Salomon Smith Barney said.

But Mr Dighero dismisses the threat posed by eBay.

"Their UK business in our minds hasn't really taken off. We don't see them being a pan-European threat yet," he said.

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