Software firm on winning streak

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The Independent Online
NOBODY could accuse Systems Union of lacking ambition. The company, founded in 1981, is already ranked second in the UK accountancy software market and among the top 10 suppliers in the world. But chairman John Pemberton is determined not to play second fiddle or to be restricted to one market, writes Roger Trapp.

Last week the second of those aims received a boost through a deal with Productivity Solved, whereby it will distribute that company's MadiSun manufacturing assembly and distribution software. To Mr Pemberton it is also a stepping stone to making the first dream come true. 'We want to offer a complete solution, not just accounting,' he said.

Nevertheless, it is accounting and related areas that have fuelled the company's growth to the point where it has annual revenue of more than pounds 25m and - reflecting an annual growth rate of 40 per cent - was placed 20th in the latest table of Britain's independent companies compiled by the Independent on Sunday in association with Price Waterhouse, the accountants.

The company now employs more than 50 people in 140 countries. Mr Pemberton credits this international presence with much of the company's success. 'It endears us to international corporates. It enables us to offer a single solution.'

Other factors are the attempts to make the products in the Sunsystems range flexible and easy for the user to adapt. 'We've put a lot of work into making the solution user-tailorable. It's one of the most fulfilling aspects,' said Mr Pemberton, pointing out that a big challenge facing producers of accountancy software was the variety of accounting conventions around the world. Besides offering more than 20 language versions, Systems Union has sought to differentiate itself by providing spreadsheets and other programs in forms suitable for use throughout the world, rather than just in those parts formerly controlled by Britain.

And with two such areas - Eastern Europe and Latin America - currently providing the greatest potential for these products, Mr Pemberton is confident that the company's winning streak can continue for a while yet.

'We're ferociously ambitious,' he said, pointing out that the company's mission statement was to be the leading supplier of accounting and business software worldwide. 'It's within our grasp,' he added.