WoodMac’s digital focus helps deliver profit boost

Stephen Halliday of Wood Mackenzie backs digital portal. Picture: Greg Macvean
Stephen Halliday of Wood Mackenzie backs digital portal. Picture: Greg Macvean
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Research group Wood Mackenzie has clocked up another year of double-digit growth amid continuing investment in new web-based services.

The firm, which employs 297 at its base in Edinburgh, took on nearly 100 people during the year to take its global staff to 936. They work from 26 offices around the world producing in-depth commercial intelligence on the energy, mining and metals industries.

Revenues in 2013 were up 12 per cent to £212.8 million, while underlying pre-tax profits were 21 per cent higher at £104.7m.

Chief executive Stephen Halliday said it was an “extremely exciting year” for the business, which has developed a new online client portal.

“We have continued to invest heavily in new technology and talented people to ensure we are delivering the premium product clients have come to expect from us,” he said.

“By increasing our investment in digital technology we are providing clients with faster information flows, which is reflected in the continued growth of our revenues.

“That relentless focus on delivering for our clients is reflected by our retention rates, with over 97 per cent of our research clients choosing to continue with Wood Mackenzie.”

The business is controlled by private equity group Hellman & Friedman, which raised its stake to 63 per cent in a £1.1 billion deal in 2012. Previous owner Charterhouse retains a 13 per cent stake, while the management team owns the remainder.

Founded in the 1840s as an Edinburgh-based stockbroker, WoodMac began evolving into its current form in the 1970s, when it began writing intricate reports on the North Sea sector. It now has more than 800 clients spanning energy and mining companies to financial institutions and governments.

It has been looking to grow the consulting side of the business, which increased its revenues by 8 per cent last year to £36.1m. Halliday said although the global economic outlook remained unsettled, this uncertainty was driving demand for analysis and advice. In addition, the company benefits from a diverse client base and broad geographical footprint.

“There are challenges ahead in some markets, with regulatory and economic factors potentially influencing the emphasis on certain sectors and geographies we work in,” he said. “Wood Mackenzie remains uniquely positioned to help its clients meet the structural challenges they face with our combination of proprietary information, the knowledge of our analysts and professional consulting skills.

“However, our position as the leading source of commercial insight into the world’s energy, mining and metals industries will continue as long as we maintain the high standards we have set, while continuing to focus on enhancing the user experience for our clients.”