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First Derivatives charts sales growth in smart metering

By Margaret Canning

Published 02/11/2016

In the trading room at Queen’s University Management School are (left to right) Alastair Hamilton, CEO Invest Northern Ireland; Nichorra McKenna, QUB student from Tyrone; Brian Conlon, CEO of First Derivatives plc; Janine McNeill, QUB student from Magherafelt; and Queen’s University President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Peter Gregson
In the trading room at Queen’s University Management School are (left to right) Alastair Hamilton, CEO Invest Northern Ireland; Nichorra McKenna, QUB student from Tyrone; Brian Conlon, CEO of First Derivatives plc; Janine McNeill, QUB student from Magherafelt; and Queen’s University President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Peter Gregson

Newry financial software firm First Derivatives is aiming to boost future sales by adapting its technology to new uses, the company said. And the plc, which has locations around the globe, vowed it's braced for any impact from Brexit as it unveiled a 52% increase in profits to £7m for the first half of the year.

First Derivatives, which employs around 1,700 people worldwide - including around 900 at its Newry headquarters - said revenue grew 34% in the first half to reach £72.4m.

Sales in its consultancy arm were up 21% to £43m, while software sales rocketed 60% to £29.4m.

Around 250 other staff are employed by First Derivatives in Belfast, while the rest of its workforce is scattered around its global premises in locations from Singapore to Toronto.

And chief financial officer Graham Ferguson told the Belfast Telegraph the company was hoping to increase sales by adapting its technology to new, 'vertical' markets.

It's already in a partnership with the US firm Utilismart, which provides meter data management and analytics to more than 100 utility companies in the US.

First Derivatives' know-how allows for the analysis of fast flows of data - including data gathered from smart meters installed in homes.

The company said development work was taking place with a view to launching its Utilismart product early next year.

And Mr Ferguson added: "We are actively talking to utility companies in the UK and Europe, and further afield, though the US and Canada are ahead of us in the use of smart meters."

And he said the technology could also be adapted for use in the pharmaceuticals sector.

But its foray into smart metering with Utilismart was "our first stake in the ground and something we'd like to expand".

And Mr Ferguson said that whatever Brexit might bring, the company was operating on a global basis, and its core bank clients would continue to need its services.

"We had a collapse in the global banking system in 2008 at a time when First Derivatives was beginning its strongest growth, so we feel we are equipped for what Brexit can bring," he added.

In a statement accompanying the half-year results, company chairman Seamus Keating said: "The weakness of sterling has been a net benefit to the group's operating results.

"Our business is well geographically diversified, with over 60% of revenue generated outside the UK. Looking ahead, we have consistently demonstrated is ability to adapt and grow as business conditions evolve, and we are confident in our ability to assist our clients through whatever transitional change may be required when the effects of Brexit become clear."

Chief executive and founder Brian Conlon added: "Following a strong performance in the first half of our financial year and continued investment in our technology and consulting offerings, the group is well positioned for growth in the second half and beyond."

First Derivatives describes itself as the biggest recruiter of graduates on the island of Ireland.

In 2013 it announced it would be sponsoring a trading room at the Queen's University Management School to educate students about market trading.

Belfast Telegraph

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