Eleventh-hour etailer Lastminute.com has unveiled an alliance with bricks-and-mortar travel agent Thomas Cook in an effort to combat mounting losses.

Lastminute customers who are looking to buy a holiday more than six weeks in advance [and hence not at the last minute], will be directed to Thomas Cook’s website. The travel agent will in return send customers seeking extras such as bookings at a restaurant or theatre tickets to Lastminute.

The etailer’s chief executive Brent Hoberman added that his company is also keen to add a cinema ticket booking service to the products it has to offer.

The news of the alliance coincided with the announcement of another loss-making quarter for Lastminute, which yesterday posted a deficit of £15.4 million for Q4 2000 - more than double the £6m lost in the equivalent quarter in 1999. Sales rose from £409,000 to £2.9m in the same period, and Lastminute estimates that its cash reserves of £70.9m will see it through to profitability.

However, the Thomas Cook deal seems to have diverted attention from the mounting losses – Lastminute’s shares rose from 69.5p to 71p.

News source: The Times (London)