A late but necessary journey to London

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For an IT staffing company whose expansion has been fuelled by the booming City jobs market, it is a surprise to find that FDM has only just opened offices in London.

FDM, floated on Aim almost two years ago, has offices in Frankfurt, Luxembourg and Washington and has now established a new training base for its IT contractors in the City.

That it has taken so long for the company to do so – it was set up in 1985 – even though it supplies computer programming specialists to the likes of HSBC, Deutsche Bank and the BBC, is a mark of its satisfaction with its headquarters in Brighton.

Rod Flavell, chief executive and one of the founders of FDM, is adamant that the Brighton base, with its excellent connections to Sussex University and its established training school on the south coast, is a perfect place from which to drive the growth of the business.

Now with a market capitalisation approaching £25m, he says the company has achieved better than 20 per cent profit growth for four successive years.

Nevertheless, a City base is now essential.

Mr Flavell said: “Our clients have grown in leaps and bounds in the past two years. The growth is mainly coming from Canary Wharf, the City and the West End and so we need to bring our offices much closer to them.”

The company’s new training academy underlines its unusual business model of training its contractors in-house in JAVA and .Net technologies. They remain employed by FDM for two years and are placed with clients.

The London training base will allow FDM to “significantly increase” its intake of IT recruits and give it a wider pool of people to draw on.

At the end of 2006, FDM had 626 contractors placed with clients, including 153 internally-trained staff.

The utilisation rate for its in-house trained contractors, which it calls “mounties”, was 97 per cent.

A confident trading outlook has helped its shares rise to 107½p last Friday, up from less than 80p in September. The company said demand for its contractors was “as robust as ever” and it had a “strong pipeline of new business” with new clients including Lloyds Register and Nomura.

The company is also dusting off plans for expansion into Switzerland. It had intended to set up a base there as long ago as 2000 but those plans were shelved amid the market downturn.

FDM reported 2006 first-half revenues up 28 per cent at £21.1m, with pre-tax profit of £1.26m.

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