Company blaming takeover delay for missing key target

Jonathan Flint

Jonathan Flint

First published in News Herald Series: Photograph of the Author by , Business Editor. Call me on 01865 425460

HI-TECH engineering firm Oxford Instru-ments has failed to meet a key growth target in its four-year plan, following a protracted takeover deal.

In 2011, the business based in Tubney Woods, near Abingdon, unveiled its 14 Cubed plan, which set a target of an annual sales growth rate of 14 per cent by 2014 with a 14 per cent return on sales.

But while the return on sales has reached the target, the compound growth figure came in at 11 per cent, and pre-tax profits for the year to March 31 remained virtually unchanged at £47.1m Bosses are blaming the prolonged acquisition of optical instrument company Andor Technology which took five months to complete, with the Belfast company’s board finally agreeing to £176m last December.

But they are staying upbeat, pointing to major jobs growth and gradual improvement throughout the year following weak demand in the first two months.

Chief executive Jonathan Flint said: “Our growth averaged 11 per cent (from 2011) which is very good.

“The acquisition of Andor took longer than expected. If we had closed that earlier, then we would have been nearer to it. As a result, we were about six months behind the target.”

Mr Flint added more growth was planned, particularly in the area of “nanobio” – the use of nano-technology tools used at a micro level in biological sciences.

Staff numbers at the Tubney Woods head office have grown to 570, up from about 300 a year ago, although Mr Flint said some workers have been transferred from other areas of the company.

Recruitment is ongoing, although not easy, he admitted.

But he added: “Getting the very best people is always a challenge but this is the best place to find them with Oxford University and the research labs here.”

Mr Flint said he welcomed the Government’s support of science and research with major investment in areas such as the Science Vale enterprise zone in South Oxfordshire, which he said the company benefited from “indirectly”.

He added: “We are at the beginning of something big.

“This is a very exciting place to be.”

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