Camera-maker Andor to develop more jobs after Nobel glory
The new owners of Belfast scientific camera-maker Andor have pledged further job creation and possible expansion into new premises in the wake of Nobel Prize-related success.
While Oxford Instruments announded lower-than-expected results for the first half of the year yesterday, chief executive Jonathan Flint said he was "delighted" with the staff, technology and performance of the Belfast-based firm.
Oxford Instruments bought Andor for £176m earlier this year, in one of Northern Ireland's biggest ever acquisitions.
The English company was founded in 1959 at Oxford University, pioneered the development of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and works alongside scientists at CERN on the Large Hadron Collider.
While first-half orders were up 19.9% to £201.5m, revenues were down 5.9% and operating profit was £18.9m, down from £22m in the same period last year.
Investment in research and development was up 41% to £18.3m.
Pre-tax profits were around £15m, down from £20m, mainly because of interest charges on the debt used to buy Andor, said Mr Flint.
Andor, which employs around 400 people worldwide, including 250 in Belfast, spun out of Queen's University in Belfast in 1989.
Its cameras were used by the 2014 winners of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry.
WE Moerner, Eric Betzig and Stefan Hell are leaders in a now-booming field of "super-resolution fluorescent microscopy".
All three used Andor EMCCD cameras in their research and Mr Flint said that he remained impressed by Andor's performance.
"Trading is ahead of assumptions and the technology is second to none," he said.
"The business continues to grow and we are still recruiting scientists and engineers.
"There is land available local to the current Springvale site and in the medium term, expansion is definitely possible."
Mr Flint said that currency fluctuation and jitters in client markets as well as the purchase of Andor contributed to the fall in profits.
"A big challenge has been currency because a lot of our revenue is in dollars, which means we have suffered as a result of the strong pound," he said.
"Japanese and Russian markets have weakened as well and we sell a lot of products into those countries."
However, he added that the outlook is positive.
"There is a strong academic and research tradition in Northern Ireland and we look forward to closer working relationships with the universities."