Ebookers plc, the UK-based internet travel agency founded two years ago, has posted its first profit. The company made a profit of £200,000 sterling (€314,000) in the third quarter of 2002. This compares with losses of £700,000 sterling (€1.1m) in the same period last year and of £900,000 sterling (€1.4m) in the second quarter of this year.
Gross sales increased 58pc year-on-year to £77.9m (€122m), while net cash balance increased for a third consecutive quarter to £25.6m sterling (€40.2m). Rose Kervick, the managing director of ebookers.ie, said that the Irish business had experienced 300pc sales growth year-on-year and was profitable. She expected ebookers.ie to achieve sales of €10m for the year ending 31 December 2002 and to double this in 2003.
She attributed ebookers’ good results to its low-cost business model. The group’s back office operations have been centralised in India, which has delivered savings of almost £1m sterling (€1.6m) this quarter. The Irish operations of ebookers comprise the internet travel business ebookers.ie and a call centre supporting European business units.
Kervick added that ebookers.ie was exploring new sources of revenue such as the corporate sector. Ebookers.ie recently signed an agreement with the International Rugby Board, which is to centralise all of its travel procurement through the online travel agent.
“We’d like to be able to offer corporate customers the facility to book online themselves and cut costs at every stage. We are also appointing dedicated sales consultants to serve them,” said Kervick.
Ebookers’ move into the black follows a recent announcement by another Irish e-tailer Buy4Now.ie that it had become profitable.
By Brian Skelly