First profit for Onyx after a record year

DATA management specialist Onyx has posted its first profit following a record year which saw revenues grow by 30% to £14.7m.

Neil Stephenson of Onyx (right) with Lord Bates
Neil Stephenson of Onyx (right) with Lord Bates

DATA management specialist Onyx has posted its first profit following a record year which saw revenues grow by 30% to £14.7m.

Chief executive Neil Stephenson says he is particularly pleased with the performance as the sales growth has come in a year without acquisitions.

The Teesside company, the current Journal North Business of the Year, was set up by Stephenson in 1994 and in that time it has made five acquisitions. Stephenson said: “2010 was a year of consistent organic growth. A year during which we integrated the businesses we have bought over recent years.”

Stockton-based Onyx saw operating profits of £1.7m in 2010 and now has 2,300 customers including the giant Balfour Beatty, as well as an unnamed FTSE 100 company for which it provides data hosting facilities.

“What we are seeing is that the size of the companies we are now doing businesses with is increasing,” he added. “The business is doing very well. It’s important that we are now starting to make profits and proves that we have a successful business model.”

In the current year Stephenson expects to see a similar magnitude of growth as it builds up its presence in the data recovery and cloud computing arena.

Onyx yesterday announced it had bought a data centre on Teesside, which will give it the capacity to add additional data hosting facilities as well as direct internet connection to Europe. Late last year Onyx secured a £250,000 venture capital investment to allow it to further develop its cloud computing presence.

Businesses are now developing their IT capacity through cloud computing. It provides them with on-demand computing facilities from data centres that share computer resources instead of using software or storage on a local PC.

Stephenson added: “Businesses are moving away from having equipment on their premises and that is why we are buying more data centres. IT companies have to now be in a position where they can offer total continuity.”

Onyx made its fifth acquisition in 2010 when it picked up London-based Disaster Recovery Solutions. Its other acquisitions include Scottish tech firms Campbell Lee and Dundas IT, as well as IT provider Moffatt Communications and an investment into Newcastle Computer Services. It has data centres in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Teesside and Newcastle.

Stephenson says he is still in the market for acquisitions of both businesses and data centres. The company employs 113 staff and will be recruiting more this year.

“As we grow the business we will be growing employment numbers. It’s important to us that we are providing jobs in the region and jobs for skilled graduates to stay in the region.,” he added. The chief executive went on to say that the company will eventually look to float on the stock market but says the “market is not right at the moment”.


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