Belfast Telegraph

IT firm First Derivatives creates 484 jobs in Newry

By Lesley Houston

Financial software firm First Derivatives Group has unveiled a 485-job creation package for Newry, making it Northern Ireland's biggest listed company in employment terms since Galen plc.

The jobs windfall, which is worth £22m to the economy, brings the global total of its workforce to almost 1,500.

The firm's announcement was made by the First Minister Peter Robinson and his deputy, Martin McGuinness, who paid tribute to the firm's great success.

The company, established by Newry man Brian Conlon, is a global provider of financial software systems and has branches all over the world, from North America to the Far East, with its clients including the world's top 100 financial institutions.

The expansion follows last year's pre-tax profits of £7.9m on turnover of just under £70m.

The new positions have been supported by financial backing worth £3.9m from Invest NI.

The increase of the firm's employment to just under 1,500 eclipses Northern Ireland's only other company listed on the London Stock Exchange, UTV Media, which employs just under 1,000.

Pharmaceutical firm Galen plc employed around 1,800 people after it was floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1997. It later became part of US firm Warner Chilcott.

Mr Conlon yesterday said the expansion will spearhead the company's move towards further growth in export markets.

The CEO added that the investment and expansion would "substantially increase its capacity".

"It will enable the group to develop new business in export markets," he said. "Critical to the success of our business is the quality of staff, and we know from experience that we can recruit excellent staff locally."

Michael Noble, chief executive of IT body Momentum, said the new posts were "great news for Northern Ireland".

"And this combined with recent job announcements demonstrates that the target of 20,000 new professional jobs in our Digital Action Plan is achievable," he said.

Brian Conlon founded the company in the 1990s when he returned home to Newry after working in London and the US.

He established the company from a spare bedroom in the family home with his mother acting as his secretary.

"You can't talk to Brian. He's in the bath," one Dutch banking client was told by Mrs Conlon in one of those early days.

Mr Conlon is known as a quiet person though one who is also a passionate fan of Co Down's gaelic football team.

He even had a place on the team in the late 1980s but a knee injury put paid to his personal gaelic football ambitions, and he took up cycling with the Newry Wheelers instead.

Mr Conlon studied at the Abbey Grammar School in Newry, and went on to study accountancy at Queen's University.

He trained in accountancy at KPMG, but revealed in a rare interview that he was underwhelmed by the bread and butter of auditing in Northern Ireland businesses.

"I spent the first year counting concrete and pick-up trucks and wanted something more challenging," he previously said.

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