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Andor buoyant as profits skyrocket

Camera maker Andor Technology has posted strong interim results and said it is confident of further growth in the year ahead.

For the six months to March 31 the Belfast-based firm saw turnover jump 24% to £20m and adjusted operating profits up 85% to £3.2m compared to the same period of 2009.

Originally a spinout company from Queen's University, Andor makes high performance digital cameras for academic, industrial and government uses. Around 190 of its 260 staff are based at its headquarters on the Springfield Road.

Chief executive Conor Walsh said Asian markets had helped drive growth, with sales in China up 71% and Japan up 30%.

"It is a good strong performance. We're doubly encouraged because this time last year we were reporting turnover up 40% and operating profit up 102%. Normally in those sorts of circumstances you'd be coming back the following year talking about consolidation and things levelling out," he said.

"China has been very strong for us. We set up our operation in Asia three years ago in Beijing and have recruited Chinese nationals into the Andor team. Nothing compensates for having people on the ground who understand a market, particularly when they are so far away."

Mr Walsh said that Andor had not been insulated from the economic environment, but said that it had benefited from having a spread of geographic markets and sectors it serves and this made the firm's board confident about the outlook for the future.

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Andor also announced that £0.5m in bonuses would be distributed among its employees because its profit related pay scheme - which puts 15% of all profit into a pool that is distributed among staff.

"The idea behind that is that the employees generate the success, not just me or the management team. For this period everyone got the equivalent of an extra month's salary, which was a record payout for the bonus scheme," said Mr Walsh.

The CEO also reiterated the company's commitment to its Belfast base.

"All of manufacturing is still done in Belfast and that is the intention going forward. Over the next 12 months we will invest more in the facility because even though it is new our rate of growth means it is filling up fast," he said.

The results also showed that Andor generated £4m in cash from operations, which Mr Walsh said gave the company scope for further acquisitions, but "only when the right one comes along".