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April 3, 1989


By CBR Staff Writer

The Headland Group Plc, headquartered in Godalming, Surrey, which was, until last October, known as Compsoft Holdings Plc, claims to be on target for its planned goal of UKP100m turnover in five years with annual turnover for 1988 at just over UKP8m, on which it made pre-tax profits of UKP851,000. Of course it would be a wee bit embarrassing if the software house had not recovered from its 1987 losses and been turned back into profitability under the management of management services company Octagon Industries which bought into Compsoft in October 1987 and which trades under the slogan Breathing new life into businesses. Nevertheless, Headland still has a lot of ground to cover and its figures have undoubtedly benefitted from the acquisition of Mega Ltd last October as well as from the disposal of operations on the continent. The Group is at present composed of Compsoft, a company whose major product is the database management system Delta Five; Wootton Jeffreys Systems which designs and writes packaged and bespoke software, as well as providing turnkey systems based on Prime Computer hardware; Mega Ltd, specialising in commercial applications for accounting and management information; and Manor House Training, a training division developed from within Compsoft. These businesses are grouped under Headland Systems, which Headland claims will become the UK’s leading provider of business software and Open Systems consultancy to Government and large corporates. This division of Headland will be grown partly organically by addressing new market sectors (outside of government and large corporates), by moving further in the Unix direction, and partly by acquiring, within the UK, companies in the business software sector, consultancies with Unix skills, and turnkey systems companies. The other Headland division is called Headland Professional, consists of Wootton Jeffreys Consultants, and is intended to become a leading urban planning consultancy. At the moment Headland’s business is split between urban planning, 30%, software consultancy, 28%, and business software with 42%; and the Group is more or less evenly divided between products-based revenue (46%) and consultancy fees (54%). According to Dr Geoff Bristow, the group’s chairman, one of the main incentives for employees to help achieve the group’s targeted growth comes from share options. To this end he was pleased that Headland had beaten its share option threshold for 1988 with earnings per share at 2.4 pence. Yet the group’s shares opened at 43 pence yesterday morning, which compares with a price in March 1988 of 50 pence, so as far as the market is concerned, the new management’s strategy still has to prove itself, and the company is still in a weak position to make the big acquisitions presupposed by its five-year plan.

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