The latest news release from UK construction collaboration vendor BIW Technologies says it has just completed its sixth straight year of growth. Turnover in 2006 (year ending 30 September) reached £4.6m – up from just over £4m in 2005.
BIW has always been very open about its performance, regularly publishing news releases, but some of its UK competitors are more reticent. A notable exception is Asite, which, being regulated by the London Stock Exchange (ASE), has to publish its annual report and accounts (see 28 September post re Asite interims, for example); 4Projects, despite being a ‘Small Company’ so far as Companies House is concerned, has also reported turnover and profits figures via articles in Contract Journal (see 18 May post).
Otherwise, one has to rely on filings to Companies House and, as small businesses don’t have to give detailed returns, this can make comparisons very difficult. Even if we focus on those businesses where we can glean some detail, some have different year-ends, and there can also be long time lags between a financial year-end and the actual filing of a company’s accounts – the latest figures for BuildOnline UK, for example, cover the year ending 31 March 2005, all of 18 months ago (and I don’t think they include BO’s operations outside the UK) – so they may not reflect the current financial health of that business as a whole.
(Even then, it is very difficult to make meaningful comparisons unless we know how each business licenses its software. Up-front license fees can give a very rosy complexion to a vendor’s figures, compared to vendors whose customers pay monthly subscriptions and so only account for the fees they receive during that year. And if a business has more than one product in its portfolio, or is part of a larger group, it becomes even more difficult to identify how well it is doing in a particular market.)
|Company||year end||T/0 2005||T/0 2004||T/0 2003||PT Profit 2005||PT Profit 2004||PT Profit 2003|
|Business Collaborator**||31 Dec||1.9||1.476||0.935||0.030||-1.837||-0.349|
* 4Projects’ figures based on press announcements (4Projects is a “small company” – see below)
** BC 2005 figures are ‘guess-timated’ based on combined BC and SciSys commercial unit figures, assuming similar performances to previous years.
Small companies: No figures available for Aconex (UK), Cadweb, Causeway, ePIN or Sarcophagus. As “small companies” meeting two of the following criteria – annual turnover of £5.6million or less, balance sheet total of £2.8 million or less, average of 50 of fewer employees – they need only submit an abbreviated balance sheet to Companies House.
With the above caveat, reviewing the last three years’ financial performance of five UK-based ‘extranet’ businesses, one can conclude that, with the exception of Asite, all the main players are increasing turnover, but it’s a bit more up-and-down on the profits front:
- BIW had a 2005 turnover more than £1m ahead of its nearest rival (and nearly £2m ahead of the third-placed competitor)
- BIW, 4Projects, BuildOnline and Business Collaborator have all seen turnover increasing
- 4Projects has been consistently profitable
- BIW appears to be moving towards profitability
- Asite’s declining turnover has seen it drop from third place in 2003 to fifth in 2005