Belfast Telegraph

Camera maker vows to focus on investment after slip in profits

By Margaret Canning

A SCIENTIFIC camera maker based in west Belfast has announced a fall in pre-tax profits while pledging to continue investing in the business.

Andor, one of just three listed companies in Northern Ireland, makes high-spec digital cameras for academic, industrial and government use in markets around the world

In interim results for the six months to the end of March, turnover was down to £27.9m from £31.2m, and pre-tax profit fell to £4.4m from £5.5m.

But sales of its mid-range 'sCMOS' products were up 24% year on year, and a continuing investment in research and development helped it develop new products, the company said.

Andor chairman Colin Walsh said: "On the one hand, the results are in line with general consensus and expectation and they are not a bad set of results. There's still strong product generation and net cash is up 17%.

"Obviously we see ourselves as a growth company therefore it's disappointing that turnover is down."

He said revenue decline was "market-related".

"We are seeing prolonged constraints on funding for scientific research, budget sequestration in the US and the end of stimulus funding.

"From 2007 to 2011 we saw growth of 28% every year. That was when stimulus money was in place and while everybody else was under pressure in the difficult economic climate, our customers were quite buoyed that funds were being sustained when money was available.

"In that time, we did well – disproportionately well – compared to our competitors. But the market is different now, and that's a challenge," Mr Walsh explained

The future focus would be on growing mid-range customers – those who were buying cameras in the £5,000 to £15,000 bracket – where sales had grown 24%. "It's a mixed performance but certainly there are plenty of positives," he added

Taking market share from competitor would be another important strategy – but Mr Walsh said the fall in turnover would not mean staff cuts.

"We will be adjusting our head count up as we have done every year. So far this year we have taken on nine people and we have a number of open recruitments at the moment. Our strategy is one of continued investment."

The company started out as a Queen's spin-off company and the business still has close links to Queen's. It continues to sell cameras to its physics department and was also part of a consortium which sold cameras to the university for a major astronomy project.

Andor is one of just three listed companies in Northern Ireland. Along with First Derivatives, Andor is listed on the AIM while UTV Media plc is on the main London Stock Exchange.

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