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September 18, 1995

LASER-SCAN BACK IN PROFIT

By CBR Staff Writer

After five years in development, Laser-Scan Holdings Plc’s Gothic geographical information system is on the verge of making the company some proper money. The Cambridge-based company, which also supports secure printing systems around the world, started Gothic from scratch five years ago with the intention of developing an object-oriented geographical information system, which now runs under Unix on Digital Equipment Corp, Hewlett-Packard Co, Sun Microsystems Inc and IBM Corp systems. The company is currently rewriting the code to run on personal computers, with Windows NT as the likely operating system. Development is at the prototyping stage, according to chief executive Mike Jackson. Meanwhile, Laser-Scan reported interim pre-tax profits of ú49,000, against ú730,000 losses last time, on turnover up 14% at ú3.5m. Gothic is used by all the major UK mapping agencies, including Ordnance Survey, the Forestry Commission, as well as the Automobile Association for its atlases and Marks & Spencer Plc to plan the location of its stores. The company made a one-for-one rights issue at the end of June that raised ú1.23m net of expenses. Jackson emphasised that this will be used to market Gothic over the next two years and was not to fill a void. Having withdrawn from hardware mnufacturing in February last year, Laser-Scan’s remaining business is the support of secure printing systems, in particular those that are used in banknote printing. The company supports the high-end plotters and scanners used in the process by such companies as De La Rue Plc – printer of currency to much of the world. Laser-Scan won contracts for this in Mexico and Brazil during the half. The company’s pre-tax profits are after allowing for capitalisation of product development expenditure of ú239,500. It also wrote-off ú83,329 in similar expenses in the half, against ú30,000 a year ago. Laser-Scan has never paid a dividend in more than 25 years of existence. Jackson was not making any firm predicitions, but indicated dividend payments may be forthcoming within two years of the rights issue.

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