Three and a half years ago, UK-based Parity Plc had an idea and a business model that quite impressed the City, and having proved the confidence was not misplaced, it is extending its model to the rest of Europe and beyond. The information technology people and services group formed by Comac Group Plc veterans (CI No 2,453) and swelled to its present size by a spate of acquisitions, has had another impressive year. Pre-tax profits rose 54% to 10.1m pounds on revenue up 26% to 160.6m pounds. The idea behind the business was to capitalize on the growing trend for young information technology professionals, who viewed long term job security as neither feasible nor desirable, to seek work on a freelance, self-employed basis. Today, Parity’s business consists of two synergistic arms. One is CSS Trident, the agency or resourcing, as it prefers to call it, business, which supplies contract programming staff to companies in need of a shortterm boost to the workforce. The other, Parity Solutions, employs some 700 full time professionals including consultants, project managers, training staff and high level programming staff that are contracted out on various projects as demand requires. The company’s special ‘model’, according to chief executive Paul Davies, is in the way it balances out resources from both sides, topping up either its own or its customers’ resources from the temporary agency to give the customers exactly the skills they need at a particular time. Last year, Parity relaunched its European operation under the banner Eurosoft, based on three small acquisitions with sales office in Germany and France (CI No 2,871), and Davies says European business is growing at an incredible pace. It now has further offices in Holland and Switzerland, and revenue increased to 36m pounds from 14m pounds last time, with both organic growth and the Eurosoft acquisition. In November it added another small company, German consultancy TPI Gesllschaft fur Technische Projekte in der Informatik mbh to the fold (CI No 2,996). Davies says the company’s model translates well overseas, and he reckons there is enormous potential for growth both in the UK and throughout Europe. Parity has a very clear blueprint for acquisitions, he said. The purchase must add to shareholder value, the culture of the company must fit with Parity’s, and Parity must be able to introduce its management style and financial controls to its acquisition. Technology industry issues such as Year 2,000 and European Economic & Monetary Union system changes, and the inevitable skill shortages they will produce, also present enormous opportunities for Parity, Davies said. He affirms Parity will definitely be buying again, but stresses the company will not expand too quickly. It is obviously keen to venture in to the US, he said, and has its eye on the Pacific Rim also, but that will not be this year. The final dividend of 2.6 pence makes a total for the year of 4.0 pence, up 60%.