Sage delivers "solid performance" in adverse conditions

First published in Business News The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Deputy Business Editor

SOFTWARE firm Sage reiterated its commitment to the North-East as it announced what it described as a “solid performance” in a difficult market.

The company, which is one of the region’s largest employers, said it continued to focus the majority of its UK recruitment in the North-East as it posted a 4 per cent rise in pre-tax profits to £356.3m, along with revenue up 3 per cent to £1,340.2m, in its end-year results today (December 5).

Although it recorded a 6 per cent growth in subscription revenue to £922.7m from £860m last year, the firm reported a 5 per cent drop in software and software-related service revenue to £417.5m, from £439.1m last year.

The group cited the deep recession in Spain, and what it described as uncertain and deteriorating conditions in France, caused largely by confidence issues, as impacting on performance.

However, it said its markets in the UK and Germany delivered strong growth, while North America showed the anticipated improvement in the second half of the year, and Asia and Africa continued to deliver double-digit growth, with strong growth in South Africa.

Despite the adverse conditions in France and Spain, the firm, which aims to double its organic growth in the next three years, said it had a contingency plan if economic conditions took a turn for the worse, but this did not involve job cuts.

The company serves more than six million businesses worldwide and employs 13,400 people, including 1,200 in the North-East. Chief executive Guy Berruyer said: “If things get worse, we have built cautious plans for the coming year.

“We have been very cautious; if we needed to be more cautious with our costs, we could. “We have no plans for redundancies. We certainly could cut costs (without making redundancies).”

However, he would not comment on whispers that all or parts of Sage could be sold, apart from to dismiss the speculation as rumours.

“This is a game of rumour,” he said. “This is not affecting positively our business. The best way is not to comment on these rumours.”

Paul Harrison, group finance director, said the company was continually recruiting in the region and that would be ongoing.

“As a major North-East employer, one thing we benefit from is the excellent supply of people from the region’s universities.

“We are able to attract some great talent in the North-East. We have focussed most of our UK recruitment in the UK. We are always recruiting.

“In common with our world-wide business, our UK business is embarking on our strategy which calls for an acceleration in growth. Our UK business is a very important part of our group.”

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