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February 12, 1997updated 05 Sep 2016 12:49pm


By CBR Staff Writer

Rossendale, UK-based P&P Plc is somewhat of a microcosm of the technology business, with its seemingly successful decision five years ago to de-focus its high volume personal computer distribution business and grow the human-resourced, higher margin services business. The company has once again seen pre-tax profits rise, up 13.5% at 14.3m pounds, on revenue flat at 344.3m pounds. However, this is in line with the company’s philosophy, says finance director John Atkin, of concentrating on profit and price share growth rather than revenue. The group has three main areas of business, Acuma, the mid-range systems supplier, P&P, the personal computer or desktop services division and QA, the training, consultancy, recruitment and contract staffing division. QA, bolstered by the company’s acquisition of Myriad Ltd (CI No 2,885) is now the biggest contributor to profits of the three, with operating profits of 5.8m pounds on revenue of 63.7m pounds, which amounts to some 37.5% of total operating profit, as against P&P’s high volume revenue at 215.5m pounds showing only 5.5m pounds operating profit. QA’s operating margin is 9.1% against P&P’s 2.6%, and even 2.6% pleases Atkin for this type of business, he says. To reflect the change in emphasis of the business, the company is to change its name to The Skillsgroup Plc, but it will keep the individual brands, P&P, Acuma and QA, for the three business areas. Very much in line with industry trends, the company maintains it offers a value- added service in every area of its business, including the desktop services, but its main thrust is in consulting, training, staff recruitment and management and placing contract staff. Atkin says there is a huge skill shortage out there, as companies depend more and more on mission-critical systems and try to adopt new technologies. The Skillsgroup can address these issues in a number of ways, he said, by identifying a company’s problems, and then either training in-house staff or placing new staff with new skills. Atkin sees all three areas of the group’s business as synergistic, and the company already has several major customers that cut across all three business areas. Its aim would be to see all its customers using all three of its business offerings, said Atkin. The company continues to be cash generative, with 15.8m pounds generated this year from operations, and boasts gross margins of 25.6%, up from 21.6%. It will pay a final dividend of 2.4 pence, making a total for the year up 16% at 3.65 pence.

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