City-bound specialist app firm targeting AIM float
A smartphone app firm which is soon to open a Belfast base is now planning to float the business on the London Stock Exchange, which could lead to further growth.
Chelsea Apps Factory - which produces software for a host of blue chip firms - plans to take the next step and launch on AIM, which is an international market for smaller companies.
The firm announced it was creating 33 new jobs in Belfast with the set up of a technology development centre last year. It's understood the company is in the process of finding a suitable location for the new office.
Now former newspaper man and founder Mike Anderson has said "we want to become a global player and are planning to float the business this year".
The company - which also employs around 70 people across its London and Edinburgh offices - hopes to double its size over the next year.
Some of its clients include bookmakers Ladbrokes, financial services firm KPMG and upmarket food retailer Waitrose.
Mr Anderson was formerly managing director of The Sun and launched the Metro.
And after his time working in print, he spied an opportunity to develop specialist apps for companies.
Since setting up shop around five years ago, the company more than doubled its revenue last year to £6m.
Mr Anderson owns a 79% stake in the business and said that mobile revenue was now "mission critical" for firms.
And getting listed is something more firms should look to, according to Colin Walsh, managing director of Crescent Capital.
"It's something they should be looking at, and more companies should be joining them," he said.
"The benefits are it's the market where you can raise capital at the lowest cost. You are selling it to the end user and that will usually get you the value. And it's also the visibility it gets you, as well as the credibility."
But Northern Ireland continues to lag considerably behind other regions in the UK in regards to the number of indigenous firms going public.
"We should have double digits of companies listed here," he said.
"We are way behind the rest of the UK in regards to this."
There are currently just two listed companies from Northern Ireland - Newry's First Derivatives, which is also on the AIM, and UTV Media plc, listed on the main LSE.
Digital camera maker Andor had also been listed in its own right on AIM, before being taken over by English firm Oxford Instruments last year.
Mr Walsh said: "Andor went public with sales of around £10m - but it changed the dynamic in the minds of the customers, who then, in some respects, believed it was a more substantive business."