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November 25, 1987


By CBR Staff Writer

The changing face of Cincom Inc held a private viewing in London yesterday, with the acceptance that the privately-held Cincinnati-based company as a whole made a loss last year to September 1986; was modestly profitable in the year just ended, and is comfortable with the prospect of going public sometime in the future, probably after a successful fiscal 1988. Terry Booth, regional director of Northern Europe, was hosting, pushing a UKP13m year for his division, out of an estimated $125m worldwide revenues for the firm. The much vaunted relational database management system, Supra, is the dominant force in this year’s Northern Europe figures, racking up 38% of revenue, bringing installations up to 35 sales, each of them bringing over UKP150,000 of income. And while Mantis on both IBM and ICL machines brings in a further 29% of total Northern Europe revenue, the most interesting trend has been the growth of DEC applications, with control of manufacturing bringing over UKP2m of revenue, 80% of it on the VAX. Booth added: We haven’t really tried to sell our Ultra relational database on the VAX yet, but all of our manufacturing software runs under it on the VAX. During the next year you will see new versions of Ultra. Already it outperforms Oracle and Ingres on a VAX, but more features will be added over the next year and we expect a big increase in revenues from the DEC market. The recently announced agreement with Nixdorf Computer to put Cincom products up under Unix (CI No 815) was referred to as a technology exchange, and it was emphasised that there was no product as yet. We have a number of technology exchanges, this is just another one designed to merge our ideas on distributed database, was one explanation. Booth said of Supra: It was right in the 1970s to build our own product from scratch. But it probably isn’t right for the 1980s and 1990s, and building Supra cost Cincom dearly. We have the habit of doing too much research and development, unlike our competitors, and we probably will not be doing that in the future. The explanation of Supra’s success in Europe was that the firm has been selling on the back of IBM’s marketing push for its own DB2 relational database with a superior product, and we don’t know anyone who has bought IMS/DB in the last 12 months, they’re all going for DB2 except when they evaluate it against Supra. Although the profit of the UK-incorporated subsidiary was not revealed, the margin on UKP13m was said to be somewhere between 10% and 20%. Netmaster, which is Cincom’s answer to IBM’s Netview, is installed in 50 Northern European sites and currently accounts for 9% of the company’s revenue. At $125m or so annual turnover, Cincom is now among the smallest of the long-established independent database companies. Now that Applied Data Research has gone to Ameritech, is Cincom’s acquisition more likely than a public flotation. Clearly, as it is a private company, that’s up to founder Tom Nies, but sale – perhaps to Nixdorf – can’t be ruled out.

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