Belfast Telegraph

First Derivatives reach new heights as revenue tops £200m for first time

Adrian Toner
Adrian Toner
Ryan McAleer

By Ryan McAleer

Revenue at Newry-based software and consulting group First Derivatives has topped £200m for the first time, according to its latest results.

Full year figures for the plc showed a 38% surge in pre-tax profits to £16.7m, on the back of a 17% rise in revenue to £217.4m for the year to February 28, 2019.

The results come just days after the firm, which is listed on the AIM, announced that its founder Brian Conlon is undergoing treatment for cancer.

The chief executive has said he will remain in his position with support from group chairman Seamus Keating.

Speaking yesterday, First Derivatives chief operating officer Adrian Toner said: "Brian is having a tough time, like anyone who is dealing with cancer. But anybody who knows Brian realises that he is mentally very strong and determined and he continues to be actively engaged, leading the executive management team and driving the company forward.

"We see no reason why that can't continue during the period of his treatment."

The latest set of results for the Newry firm show it continues to expand rapidly in virtually all sectors.

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The company's software, which it built to help financial institutions to quickly process and understand large amounts of data, has been increasingly adopted in other sectors, with revenue from 'other markets' up by 85% to £9.3m over the year.

"For some time we have been trying to grow outside of capital markets and the banking world," the chief operating officer said.

Formula One racing team Aston Martin Red Bull was one of the high profile examples of how First Derivatives software has been deployed.

Mr Toner said the consistent double-digit growth recorded by the company is a testament to the quality and breadth of the services it offers.

He explained the company's chief goal is to establish itself as the leading capital markets practice in the world.

"We are ruthlessly committed to delivering upon our strategy," he said. But he added that the diversified markets would help it grow in future years.

"There is more and more data being created every day and the ability to store that data and run complex analytics and convert it into information that allows better decisions to be made, and to do that faster than any other competing technology in the world, that's the competitive advantage for FD," Mr Toner said.

Now based across 15 global offices, First Derivatives employs around 2,400 people. Last year the company announced plans add another 1,000 staff.

Mr Toner said the group recruited 500 people over the reporting period, including 350 graduates. But he said the attrition of staff within the industry, ie people moving between firms, put the actual net annual increase in the workforce at 200. And he pointed out it remains First Derivatives' policy to bring every international recruit to Newry for between one and three months. The strategy sees the firm's headcount in the city fluctuate from between 400 and 600, but the strategy has provided a boon for the Newry economy.

The company's new offices on Belfast's Ormeau Avenue houses a fixed workforce of 300.

Mr Toner said, while Brexit remains a "frustration", the group's global nature and its presence in the Republic means it won't derail its business.

However, people movement is a concern. He added: "We have quite a number of people who are EU nationals and non-EU nationals working for us. That mobility of labour will present a challenge to us."

Belfast Telegraph