Ipswich: Year of growth for systems specialist Smart421

THE boss of Suffolk-based systems integration and software specialist Smart 421 has hailed another successful year for the business, following the announcement of increased profits for its parent company.

KCOM Group reported a pre-tax profit of �51.1million for the 12 months to March 31, up more than 50% on the previous year, despite a 2% dip in revenue to �387.3m.

Smart 421, based at the Felaw Maltings complex in Ipswich, helps clients to optimise their information and communications technology systems, including the development of bespoke software to integrate different systems and continuing round-the-clock support.

It also offers “thought leadership”, keeping clients up-to-date on the latest technologies and helping them to identify how they might be used to benefit their businesses.

Neil Miles, Smart421’s Ipswich-born managing director, said it had been another year of strong growth for the business, with a number of new customers being secured and the workforce growing to fill additional space taken on previously.

“Cloud” computing, involving the use of the internet to make use of processing capacity when it is required without having to invest in costly hardware, was a fast-growing area of business and was being used to help clients make more use of their information in “real time”, said Mr Miles.

Alongside a number of high-profile national companies, Smart421 had also secured a number of additional local firms as clients in the past year, he added, including Ipswich-based self-invested pensions provider Suffolk Life, part of Legal & General.

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Smart421 has increased its workforce from 150 to around 250 in the past two years. As well as employing people directly, it also aims to use local suppliers where possible and Mr Miles is personally involved in the local business community through organisations including Suffolk Chamber of Commerce and Innovation Martlesham.

“Overall, we are very pleased with another successful year,” he added.

Bill Halbert, executive chairman of KCOM, said the group as a whole had continued to perform well during the past year.

“We remain focused on executing our growth strategy and we expect the performance of the group to continue to relfect this during the current financial year,” he added.

The full-year dividend for shareholders will rise by 11.1% from 3.6p to 4.0p per share.