Belfast Telegraph

Tech giant First Derivatives to hire hundreds more after a robust year

By John Mulgrew

Newry financial software giant First Derivatives said it could add a further 500 new staff to its workforce next year after posting a surge in sales to almost £90m for the first half of 2017.

The company produces software used in the financial service sector, but has also landed deals for work with Formula One team Red Bull and in other areas.

Overall, its turnover rose by 22% to £87.8m for the first six months of 2017.

And while pre-tax profits fell slightly, dropping from £7m to £6.3m - due to currency changes and acquisition costs - its adjusted profits rose by 13% to £11.4m.

The company has hired 450 staff this year already, and Adrian Toner, chief operating officer, told the Belfast Telegraph that it could add the same, or more, next year. The firm, headed by Brian Conlon, now employs around 2,100 workers across 14 locations, with around 500 spread across Newry and Belfast.

"We have hired 450 people this year, and have 21 new starters in Newry this week," Mr Toner said.

"Roughly, everyone is recruited out of Newry, and then deployed. Around 160 of those have come from Queen's and Ulster University.

"One of the highlights for us is very strong growth in the software revenue. We are very pleased with that.

"Clearly it has been our strategy to move into other verticals. We are industry agnostic - and now expanding into retail, pharma, and recently Formula One.

"Kx technology with Red Bull Racing will be used to analyse sensor data with F1 vehicles, and wind tunnel data. It will also be used in real time for the drivers, and the team.

"We are having a really exciting conversation with various sectors, including healthcare, retail and telecoms."

Mr Toner said the challenge will be in the firm's ability to recruit the right people in sufficient numbers.

"We can see the same recruitment numbers happening next year, if not more," he added.

First Derivatives has offices in London, Dublin, New York, Stockholm, Philadelphia, Palo Alto and other global locations, while maintaining its Newry and Belfast bases. Speaking about Brexit, Mr Toner said that while it does cause problems and issues, the firm's wide footprint will help it tackle any concerns it could face.

"On one hand, does it cause problems, the mobility of labour? Yes it does, but it affords opportunities as well. We have a large operation in the Republic and throughout Europe. Any decision to move capital markets, we think we are well covered and will afford others," he said.

"With the Trump administration, it's much more difficult to employ internationally. It's a fact of life. It's not an immovable object. We have to get it over it."

Looking ahead to future projects, he said: "First Derivatives is all about innovation... we are looking at blockchain, we are looking at analytics, industrial 'internet of things', robotics and artificial intelligence."

Belfast Telegraph

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