Diversity cues Bond revival

Back in late 2001, recruitment industry software developer Bond International Software was a business on the up, but then things started to stall.

Back in late 2001, recruitment industry software developer Bond International Software was a business on the up. The company had developed a decent reputation in both the UK and certain parts of North America and was poised to conclude a record year of trading, profits for the period rising to £1.3 million on £11.4 million of sales. Allied to this, Bond’s AIM-listed shares were, if not performing spectacularly, at least motoring along nicely.

Then things started to stall. Several large orders failed to materialise on both sides of the Atlantic and a testing 2002 saw the previous year’s record sales reverse into a near £2 million loss, as sales slumped 44 per cent.

The good news for chief executive Steve Russell, is that Bond is now well and truly back on track. ‘We are a much wider spread organisations now,’ Russell explains of Bond’s revival. ‘Back then we were very dependent on the IT recruitment sector but now, thanks to some of the big deals we’ve signed, the risk has been dispersed.’

Last year’s figures were indicative of the fightback. During the 12 months to December Bond grew pre-tax profits back to £1.9 million. Encouragingly, sales now seem to be accelerating rapidly too.

The signing of several large contracts has been vital in building diversity. One deal with EasyJet (completed in July), for example, represents a three-year agreement that will see the budget airline use Bond’s Adapt software to underpin all of its online recruitment activities. Clothing giant Matalan, recruitment business Randstad and utilities group Southern Water are among other recent customer wins.

As a result of these deals Bond now finds itself in the enviable position of having already covered its UK operating costs for 2006 through recurring revenues.

February’s acquisition of US-competitor Prairie Development Incorporated (PDI) adds further to this diversity. ‘We bought PDI for three reasons,’ says Russell. ‘Firstly, it expands us geographically as they have an office in Minneapolis [granting Bond a presence in America’s Mid-West]. Secondly, they focus on the small to mid-range market and sell lower value products in higher volumes. And finally, they have a back-office offering too.’

Bond’s planned launch of Adapt version 11 in the near future should aid matters still further, as it will be the company’s first genuinely multi-lingual product. ‘With the launch of the next release of Adapt, [we are] well placed to move into the potentially large South East Asia market,’ comments Russell, and [our Australian division] is already talking to prospects in China and Japan.’

Marc Barber

Marc Barber

Marc was editor of GrowthBusiness from 2006 to 2010. He specialised in writing about entrepreneurs, private equity and venture capital, mid-market M&A, small caps and high-growth businesses.

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