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ITT 2008: Lastminute.com back on acquisition trail

Lastminute.com has given a clear signal that it is back on the acquisition trail and indicated it will look to buy  companies outside of the travel industry.

In an interview with TW Group publishing director Simon Ferguson at the Institute of Travel and Tourism conference in Cyprus, McCaig said he was ‘open minded’ about making acquisitions after a period during which it has focused on integrating its own businesses.

The online retailer made 14 bolt-on acquistions in quick succession after it was floated on the stock exchange in 2000.

McCaig said: “In 2004 and 2005 my view was that we had the product coverage that we desired at that moment in time. We needed to take a break.

“I am open-minded about acquisitions now but I think they would very much focus on areas we believe our core differentiation can be driven.”

He indicated this could include companies in the leisure and lifestyle markets rather than travel.

Already two-thirds of Lastminute.com’s bookings are in the lifestyle sector, although per booking revenues are much smaller than travel purchases. “Our view has been that to differentiate yourself in this [online] space you have to be about leisure not just travel, which is why we have continued to invest in lifestyle businesses,” he said.

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