Annual Report to July 2013
Turnover up by 9% overall
Gross Margin up 10%
Operating Profit up 7%
Retained Reserves in excess of profits post tax
“Welcome to my report on a further solid year of growth for the Bridge. A year in which, having delivered a stunning 45% increase in profits during the previous year, it was very much a case of consolidating profits and proving that last year’s growth was no flash in the pan.
The company’s expansion in the previous year was attributable above all to a trebling of our revenues from the Energy sector and it was our ambition this year to deliver a consolidated performance from the oil and gas team. In the event we actually increased margins in this sector by 10%, neatly matching the overall growth on the IT side of the business.
Where last year IT contract was the other main driver of growth, this time it was IT permanent fees which leapt forward 18% and claimed the laurels. It’s interesting to note that in the past three years each of our three revenue streams has taken its turn to provide the biggest boost, vindicating our three-pronged marketing strategy.
We saw in the recent profits growth a big opportunity to reinvest. In 2011 the most obvious manifestation of our ambition was the move to much larger premises. Through 2012 and into 2013, we’ve increased employee numbers and worked on training the new intake who are filling our extra space. These are a combination of highly able graduate trainees and a number of experienced consultants who recognise the Bridge’s pre-eminent position in the marketplace. Since the start of this financial year employee numbers have remained stable, while skills and capacity have increased.
Notable projects include developing an IT team for one of the world’s top pharmaceutical companies and providing consultants to deliver a Europe-wide implementation for a global chemicals firm. We remain the supplier of choice for one of the few NHS IT programmes to have actually been delivered, a relationship which goes back over 5 years. And on the oil and gas side, we have done business in over 20 countries from Europe, North. South and Central America, North and West Africa, the Middle East to the Far East, particularly Malaysia and Indonesia. Another landmark in our development is our appointment as preferred supplier to a number of global E&P companies.
My thoughts for the upcoming year to July 2014: Contract revenues may have grown slightly but disappointing order intake on the contract recruitment side throughout the financial year has suppressed contract numbers and leaves us with a lower installed contractor base at the start of the new year than we would have hoped. Increased demand for permanent staff is however providing significant counterbalance and this area will enjoy our sharpest focus. The oil and gas market is showing signs of taking a breather after several years of headlong rush so we will watch carefully our allocation of resources to this area. With considerable investment still taking place in employee development, we have set two further objectives of substantially raising the numbers of contractors on assignment and developing junior staff into independently productive consultants. Achievement of these aims will not feed through in revenue terms until the third and fourth quarters of the year ending July 2014 but could have a significant impact on returns in 2015 and beyond.
One aspect of our investment programme I’d like to highlight is the continuation of a share options scheme for which all employees are eligible. This is a 5 year scheme in which distributions of share options will be made on each anniversary of its introduction to those members of staff who have made an outstanding contribution in the previous year. Shortly after the 2013 financial year end, the board was delighted to invite eleven employees to become co-shareholders in the company in the second such award of options. The scheme is designed to foster a collective sense of purpose and ultimately to deliver a handsome reward to our many deserving colleagues.
The share options, above all, are a way of saying thank you for your loyalty and hard work. But a big thank you is in order to all employees for your effort this year and I hope that those who missed out on the first and second distributions enjoy participation in one of the remaining three releases to follow.
The global economic crash has evolved into a particularly European crisis. But it appears that the world still has a hunger for oil. And for as long as the internet continues its march into every sphere of our lives, companies will seek IT professionals who can give them the edge in a technology-driven world of commerce.
The Bridge has an enviable reputation as the firm which delivers.”
Julian Goddard, Director