Lane Fox leaves

The e-commerce firm has turned in its first annual profit, but Martha Lane Fox is to step down as managing director has turned in its first annual profit but announced that co-founder and one-time dot-com darling Martha Lane Fox is to take more of a back seat role.

The company has turned in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) of £15.0m compared to a loss this time a year ago of £7.3m

The e-tailer - which concentrates on travel and associated services -- has posted another quarter in the black and the 12-month profit was expected. For the three months ended 30 September, margins were up "significantly" to 20.3 percent and EBITDA profit stood at £14.2m, compared to £2.8m a year ago.

However, Lane Fox said in a statement: "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."

She will stay on as a non-executive director and what the company called "a major shareholder".

Allan Leighton, chairman -- as well as Royal Mail chairman and Leeds United chairman, to name but two other posts -- said Lane Fox "has played a major role in the progress of and we are pleased that she will stay on the board as a non-executive director."

Her duties as group MD will be taken on by Ian McCaig, who was appointed COO in August 2003. now operates in 13 European countries and elsewhere through joint ventures. It has grown organically and through a number of acquisitions, such as Holiday Autos and France's Degriftour in 2000.

Its share price has rallied this year well above its IPO price after sound results and speculation it may also be an acquisition target.