Annual Report to July 2012

 

Financial Highlights

Turnover up by 5% overall

Operating Profit up 45% as the oil and gas division matures into profit

Retained Reserves in excess of profits post tax

 

Chairman’s Statement

“Welcome to my report on a spectacular year for the Bridge. A year in which we surprised all expectations, certainly our own, by delivering a stunning 45% increase in profits from a relatively small 5% increase in turnover.

Let’s remember that in the previous years we had hardly been treading water: 2011 saw a 15% increase in profits, 2010 27%.

Where did the growth come from? Last year I reported a big rise in permanent recruitment fees along with more moderate growth in contract earnings. And in the forecast which concluded last year’s report, I predicted that members of the oil and gas team “are well placed to exploit our understanding of the market and the reputation we have earned for quality and attention to detail. Percentage growth will be substantial and the contribution made to the bottom line will be equally significant.”

And so it proved. The oil and gas division trebled, yes trebled, its turnover and made an unsurprisingly substantial impact on our numbers.

Where I was almost equally clairvoyant/fortunate (delete as you see fit) was in predicting a short term flattening of demand for permanent staff in IT balanced by strong demand for  contractors. As it turned out, IT perm fees remained stable while IT contract leapt 20%.

We saw in this profits growth a big opportunity to reinvest. Last year the most obvious manifestation of our growth had been a move to much larger premises. Towards the end of the year, we embarked on the task of filling those premises with new employees. 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. As a consequence of this effort, employee numbers have increased 40%.

Notable projects include our own Olympic effort when we provided the technical project leadership for the Olympic Games Village through our collaboration with a key Games sponsor. 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 2013: I believe a retrenchment in demand for contract staff will follow in the next six months as a short term response to the high levels of activity that closed this year. I expect increased demand for permanent staff to provide some counterbalance. Oil and gas will be a year of consolidation as we seek to cement our market position in a rapidly maturing
marketplace.

Profits growth in the short term will be moderated by our focus on investment. Increasing headcount by 40% does not guarantee comparable leaps in earnings unless training is combined with an effort to win new customers. We see ourselves making further big steps forward, and 2013 will be a year which shows 2012 to have been no flash in the pan, but the fruits of our current investment programme are more likely to show in earnest come 2014 and beyond.

One aspect of our investment programme I’d like to highlight is the introduction 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 2012 financial year end, the board was delighted to invite nine employees to become co-shareholders in the company via an approved share option scheme 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 distributions enjoy participation in one of the remaining four releases to follow.

The global economic crisis rumbles on. 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