A SOFTWARE maker helping to steer a growing Formula One team says it has overcome difficult European markets to retain its strong market position.

Sage Group, which employs more than 1,000 North-East workers, says it expects to increase revenues after its global businesses continued to improve.

The firm, whose headquarters are in Newcastle, serves more than six million companies worldwide, offering management software and services, including accounting and payroll support.

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It also works with Formula One team Marussia, providing software that allows engineers to monitor thousands of car parts.

Bosses say its European division has performed well, despite troubled market conditions in Spain and France, which the company said had impacted on larger IT projects.

However, it highlighted a general wider improvement in mainland Europe, which it says has continued from the ends of 2013, coupled with strong growth in the Americas.

The company also said its ERP X3 software, used by Marussia, has allowed it to maintain customers in North America.

In a report, Sage said the group's operating cash generation remained strong, with a further 5.7 million shares re-purchased for a consideration of £19.1m since the year end.

It added net debt at December 31 stood at £381.8m, down from £384.3m on September 30.

Guy Berruyer, Sage chief executive, said: “Our performance in the first quarter is in-line with our expectations, with good growth maintained across all regions.

“Through continued focus on our strategic cornerstones, we remain on course to deliver on our six per cent organic revenue growth target in 2015, and anticipate making further progress during the year ahead.”

The trading update comes after Sage last month revealed increasing demand from small businesses, with underlying revenues for the year ended September 30 four per cent higher at £1.26bn.

Mr Berruyer highlighted its cloud software services, which help smaller firms scrutinise every aspect of the business without the need for IT infrastructure, as a major factor.

He said: “Cloud is progressing quite rapidly for small businesses, and companies like it because they don't have the installation hassle.”

Formed in 1981, Sage floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1989 and employs more than 12,700 workers in 24 countries.