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Allan Leighton, new chairman of Lastminute.com
"You've got to be very customer focused"
 real 56k

Wednesday, 11 October, 2000, 09:15 GMT 10:15 UK
Lastminute move for Asda's Leighton
Lastminute founders Martha Lane Fox and Brent Hoberman
Help is at hand for Brent and Martha
The former chief executive of UK supermarket chain Asda, Allan Leighton, is to become chairman of internet retailer Lastminute.com.

He will take up the non-executive post on 20 October.

The highest profile of UK internet firms, Lastminute said that Mr Leighton would play an active role when he replaces Pieter Bouw, the former KLM chief who has been chairman since November 1998.

Allan Leighton
Allan Leighton brings a big retail reputation with him

Mr Leighton said he also plans to take up non-executive directorships or chairmanships at other companies.

Mr Bouw will remain at Lastminute as a non-executive director.

"Lastminute.com has very rapidly established an excellent market position," Mr Leighton said.

"[Founders] Brent [Hoberman] and Martha [Lane Fox] are two dynamic and visionary leaders and I intend to play an active role in helping them to establish Lastminute.com as a European scale business."

Non-executive moves

Mr Leighton, who briefly became president and chief executive officer of Wal-Mart Europe after the US group bought Asda, is a non-executive director of BSkyB Group, Wilson Connolly Holdings and Leeds Sporting.

Since his departure from Asda, where he gained a strong reputation in the City, there has been ceaseless speculation about his next move.

Mr Leighton said he has spoken to several e-commerce companies and intends to take about six non-executive directorships or chairmanships, details of which he will announce in coming weeks.

"I have seen quite a lot of e-businesses in the last few weeks. I have had about 50 or 60 proposals, and I worked it down to about half a dozen," he said.

Lastminute.com, which floated at the peak of the technology stock "bubble" in March, has since seen its share price collapse by as much as two thirds.

The news of Mr Leighton's arrival prompted a modest 6p rise in Lastminute shares in early Wednesday trading, from 137.5p to 143.5p, before falling back to stand unchanged on the day.

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See also:

03 Aug 00 | Business
Lastminute losses narrow
14 Aug 00 | Business
Lastminute nets French rival
17 Mar 00 | UK
Can Lastminute deliver?
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