SQLI finished the fourth quarter with turnover of €60.5 million, up 18% on the back of robust like-for-like growth (6% at constant exchange rates) and the successful integration of two strategic acquisitions completed in Northern Europe over the year: Star Republic in May and Osudio in September.
This performance brings the Group’s consolidated turnover for 2017 to stand at €211.7 million, up 11% over the year or 5% at constant scope and exchange rates. SQLI thus met its turnover target for 2017 with double-digit growth.
The Group’s development was underpinned by the creation of e-commerce platforms for international key accounts, which are now being rolled out in partnerships with the world’s leading software publishers, including Adobe, EPiServer, SAP Hybris and Magento. Thanks to its proven expertise over a new geographical scope, SQLI won a number of major new projects in France and Northern Europe, with customers such as La Banque Postale, Carlsberg and Generali.
Continuing to refocus on high value-added projects, the Group stepped up its withdrawal from projects that are no longer strategic (technical support and assistance, local operators) or profitable. This shift, which began as part of the Move Up 2020 plan, has enabled SQLI to strengthen its foothold in the emerging “Digital Experience Service Providers” segment, as defined by consulting agency Forrester.
The International business, which now covers 10 European countries after the acquisitions in 2017, performed well across the board, supplying 31% of the Group’s consolidated turnover, compared with 22% the previous year.
Growth was driven by the successful positioning of the Group’s offers and by a strong HR policy, thanks to which the headcount rose from 2,020 in 2016 to 2,365 a year later.
In a persistently difficult job market, the Group’s appeal to potential employees and efforts undertaken to maintain the headcount brought the staff turnover rate back down to around 21% on average over the year, with a peak of 25% during the first half.
This progress will no doubt be bolstered by the Group’s plans to bring all of its employees in the Ile-de-France region together at a single site in Levallois-Perret, just outside Paris.
SQLI’s new focus on high value-added projects drove the average daily billing rate up by more than 4% for services provided out of local agencies as well as rollouts managed from service centers (ISCs) in France and abroad (Morocco and South Africa).
In keeping with the goals set in the Move Up 2020 plan, the Group’s ISC teams, who work on deploying global e commerce platforms for European groups, grew substantially in 2017 and now count nearly 700 engineers and experts (+130 people in twelve months). The quality of the service provided by ISC staff has boosted the Group’s structural profitability and customer satisfaction levels. Resources from the Group’s new acquisitions are now also being pooled with these teams.
The improvement in HR measures gradually drove up the employment rate over the final months of the year, taking it to 85% on average for 2017 as a whole, compared with 83% in the first half.
As its performance indicators rise, SQLI aims to significantly accelerate its recurring operating profit over the second half 2017, as against the first six months of the year.
Boosted by the strong momentum it enjoyed in 2017, SQLI is aiming for more double-digit growth in 2018 and at least €240 million in turnover.
SQLI will publish its 2017 results on March 29, 2018 after the close of trading.