Sir John Egan, chairman of internet portal Asite, believes the industry's move to e-commerce means that the business is about to make its first profit.
Egan said more people and firms in the industry were catching on to what e-commerce could do for business, thanks to the work Asite was doing.

He said the portal would cash in on the movement by developing its client relations and offering individual services tailored to clients' needs.

"The result is a gradually changing industry, and a solid basis for a highly innovative business that continues to enjoy excellent prospects," Egan said. "The company is poised to reap commercial benefit from enabling these positive changes for the industry."

The former head of the strategic forum made the bullish comments after Asite posted a pre-tax loss of £2.15m for the six months to 30 June. He said it was a positive sign that the group's losses had decreased from £4.6m for the same period last year. Asite lost £8.4m in 2001 and £3.5m in 2000.

Egan also predicted that Asite would be generating cash by the end of the year. Turnover during the period was £816,000 compared with £4.3m last year. The fall was a result of Asite's sale of its non-core businesses over the year.

Egan said the group's trading losses were £1.72m; another £436,000 was eaten up by head office and restructuring costs. Asite's backers include BAA, J Sainsbury, Mace and O'Rourke.