Online retailer Lastminute.com teamed up with high street retailer Thomas Cook Monday, as it announced that its losses more than doubled in the last quarter of 2000.
The partnership means the Thomascook.com Web site will include links to offers at Lastminute.com, such as deals on theatre tickets, restaurants and hotels. In return, Lastminute.com users looking to book a holiday more than six weeks in advance will be able to click through a joint site offering such deals.
Currently, Lastminute.com doesn't offer holidays this far in advance.
Nicola Denvir, head of travel at Lastminute, insisted that the deal didn't mean a change of focus, and was a way of offering something different to existing users. "If we were moving away from the last-minute model then we'd be selling them on our own site," she explained. "We recognise that the people using our site also have other needs, and we can satisfy them in this way."
Denvir added that Lastminute.com has no immediate plans for any other partnerships of this nature, but that it might pursue them if the Thomas Cook deal was a success.
News of the deal with Thomas Cook came as Lastminute.com announced that it had made a loss of £15.4m in the last quarter, compared to a loss of £6m for the same period in 1999. This was partly blamed on the cost of expanding operations in Europe.
Lastminute.com also reported that it only gained a modest number of extra users in the three months to 31 December 2000, The company now has 2.86 million subscriber, compared to 2.85 million in the previous quarter.
Denvir denied that the subscriber figures gave cause for alarm. "Of course growth in new members will slow eventually. To be successful, you need to offer the breadth and depth of good services to your users," she said. This is something which the Thomas Cook deal may provide.
Total transactions at Lastminute in the last three months of 2000 rose by 53 percent to £20.2m compared with the quarter before. The company expects that its cash reserves of around £70m will be enough to see it to profitability.
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