Major expansion of , the drinks industry's leading business knowledge portal, is planned following a management buyout by the site operator --

Serving business professionals in the drinks industry globally, was launched in May, 1999, and has rapidly developed into the leading source of information and business knowledge, winning AOL's "Editor's Pick" and "Star" recommendation from the Open Project. Exclusive content is provided by a wide range of industry partners as well as by the site's own research resources.

Managing editor Elliot Lane, former deputy editor of Drinks International Bulletin, has worked on a wide range of national, professional and industry publications -- and for TV.

Commenting on the role of the site, Lane said: "The Internet is now the most exciting and dramatic source of information and news. It is ideal for the drinks industry because it offers global access to the people the industry needs to communicate with -- not just competitors and distributors, but consumers as well."

The major portion of the proceeds will be used to develop and promote's four current portals, which are already established as market leaders in the online information market -- which is forecast to grow to $40 billion worldwide by 2004 -- generating substantial hit levels and significant revenue.

According to CEO Allan Davies, has a well-established knowledge supply chain and intelligent use of the Internet provides a more efficient and lower cost marketing and distribution channel for the business. "Our business model is based on lower costs and better service for both suppliers and customers. Unlike many other businesses, we have taken a hard-headed, traditional business approach to all our ventures.

"Our marketing costs are proportionate to a sound business plan -- and our current revenue -- and as a result we predict monthly profitability within 18 months. The buyout provides us with the resources to build just-sites into a leading global brand and increase substantially the substance and value of our content."

Key elements of's expansion will be an extension of the range of information services, widening of partnerships with other information providers, marketing alliances with major brands and personalization of knowledge delivery to sharpen differentiation.

Access to the sites is free and without registration. An e-commerce site goes live in July for the resale of business knowledge.