Accounting giant Sage prepares for expansion but skills gap remains

The FTSE 100 firm’s boss told PA optimism remains for small and medium firms but more people need to train as software engineers to fill jobs.

Simon Neville
Wednesday 17 November 2021 13:01
Sage plans a spending spree following restructuring (Gareth Fuller / PA)
Sage plans a spending spree following restructuring (Gareth Fuller / PA)

Accounting software giant Sage is on the hunt for deals and takeovers as its boss said the restructuring phase of its turnaround is over.

Steve Hare told the PA news agency: “Since I became CEO three years ago, we have sold a number of parts of the business as we slimmed down.

“That’s generated sales proceeds of over £500 million. But that’s largely come to an end, so, this is the shape of the group and we’re going to scale and grow.”

Steve Hare, boss of Sage, said firms are optimistic for the future. (Sage / PA)

His comments came as the company said small and medium businesses it supplies software to remain confident for the year ahead, despite the ongoing supply chain issues, inflation and the end of Covid-19 Government support packages.

He said: “There’s a general optimism among small and mid-sized customers, and they have adapted well as we came out of the lockdown period.

“There are some headwinds – all customers are saying it’s harder to hire more generally, which is taking longer.

“They’re also saying there are hiccups and dislocations in the supply chain, which I’m hearing from all around the world … but I’m pretty optimistic that will settle down.”

Job vacancies have been particularly hard to fill, both for Sage’s customers and for Sage itself, according to Mr Hare.

He explained that shortages in key skills like artificial intelligence, machine learning, data scientists and software engineers remain high, adding: “Finding those core skills is difficult and we need more people to go and train to be software engineers and data scientists.”

The boss also revealed pre-tax profits in the year to September 30 dropped 8% to £374 million, with revenues down 3% to £1.85 billion.

The fall in profits was put down to heavy investment in research and development, alongside marketing to win new customers.

Future growth is set to come through its business cloud services and he added the FTSE 100 firm is eyeing up opportunities in the UK, US and continental Europe.

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