Lastminute chief looks forward to 2005

Lastminute.com chief Brent Hoberman today shrugged off his company’s big financial losses and said his business was in good shape for 2005.

Lastminute.com chief Brent Hoberman today shrugged off his company’s big financial losses and said his business was in good shape for 2005.

But he hinted that the pioneering internet travel company might have to add to the 350 job cuts it has already announced.

Mr Hoberman was addressing delegates at the Association of British Travel Agents annual convention in Orlando, Florida.

He was asked about Lastminute’s recently announced £77m (€109m) pre-tax annual loss.

He replied: “We are in a volatile sector but my business still has a decent valuation of £350m (€498m). We are in a good position next year to strip out costs. I am very excited about 2005.”

Mr Hoberman, who founded Lastminute with Martha Lane Fox in 1998, was asked if he could rule out further redundancies.

He replied: “I don’t think that any chief executive would rule out further cuts in their business.”

Mr Hoberman insisted that he supported the UK travel business but warned that American-dot-com companies wanted to “damage our tour operators and travel agents and put them out of business”.

He went on: “We are used to a negative press. We are still the most-visited travel and leisure website in the UK and Europe. We are facing increasing competition but customers are flocking to us.”

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