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Newry software firm First Derivatives doubles profits in wake of acquisitions


Brian Conlon was named business personality of the year

Brian Conlon was named business personality of the year

Brian Conlon was named business personality of the year

Financial software firm First Derivatives (FD) in Newry has seen pre-tax profits more than double after a series of successful acquisitions.

The software and consultancy firm founded by Brian Conlon - its chief executive and winner of the 2015 Belfast Telegraph's Business Personality of the Year title - saw profit before tax rise by 120%, from £7.9m in 2014 to £17.5m this year.

Revenue increased 19% from £69.9m to £83.2m in the financial year ending February 28, 2015.

The company put the successful year down to a number of fruitful acquisitions, in particular an increased investment in Kx Systems.

Last October FD increased its stake in the Silicon Valley-based big fast data firm from 20% to 65%, and in February bought software company Prelytix LLC for an initial fee of £4.9m.

In March FD made two more acquisitions, Ontario-based software development consultancy Affinity Systems Ltd for an initial £3.8m, and Dublin-based software business ActivateClients Ltd for an initial £3.3m.

Chairman Seamus Keating said the acquisitions had strengthened its position in the market of big fast data, which allows firms to process information at a much faster rate. "This was a very successful year for FD, with the purchase of a majority stake in Kx Systems enabling the group to broaden its strategy," he said.

"The subsequent investment across the business, including three strategic acquisitions in 2015, positions FD as a leading player in big fast data across multiple vertical markets."

Mr Keating added the success had continued into this financial year. "This has been achieved while maintaining a strong focus on current trading, with a strong second-half performance from both our consulting and software activities enabling the group to report record results for the 2015 financial year and upgrade expectations for the current financial year.

"We will continue to invest to maximise the growth potential of the business and view the future with confidence."

Economist John Simpson said FD's journey was "quite remarkable".

"Six years ago the turnover was under £20m, and year by year it has gone up. The annual increase has been around £10m, which is impressive. In Northern Ireland terms, they are a very large IT firm and a bit distinctive with the scale of their business in North America. Its North America operation is bigger than any other Northern Ireland firm."

The FD journey began in the spare room of Mr Conlon's mother's house in Newry, where he started the firm in 1996. It now employs 1,200 people around 13 offices worldwide, including Philadelphia, Singapore and Dubai.

In June last year FD announced it would create 484 new jobs at its Newry base, after it received £3.9m from Invest NI. FD's clients include large investment banks, asset managers, exchanges and regulators in the capital markets.