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Tribal continues its turn around, delivering first statutory profit since 2013

publication date: Mar 30, 2018

Tribal Group has continued its turn around, reporting an adjusted operating profit of £8.5m for the year ended 31 December 2017 (2016: £4.7m), on revenue down 6% to £84.9m (2016: £90.3m). Adjusted operating margin increased from 5.2% in 2016 to 10.1% in 2017.

Excluding the expiration of Tribal’s Ofsted Early Years contract in March 2017, which contributed revenue of £11.6m in 2016 (2017: £3.0m), and the disposal of its Synergy business in March 2016, which delivered revenue of £1.7m in 2016, revenue relating to continuing operations increased by 6.5%, to £81.9m (2016: £76.9m).

Annually recurring revenue, including cloud services, grew 5.5% in 2017 to £37.5m (2016: £35.5m), representing 44% of the company’s total 2017 revenue (2016: 39%), Tribal said.

The company says that it has now achieved total cumulative annualised cost reductions of £12.0m since the start of its restructuring programme in 2016, of which £3.0m was achieved in 2017. Tribal expects to achieve further efficiencies in 2018. The impact of these actions helped to deliver Tribal’s first statutory post tax profit since 2013 - £2.6m (2016: £1.2m loss).

At 31 December 2017, Tribal had net cash of £14.1m (2016: £8.8m).

For 2018, Tribal expects a continued improvement in profitability, although revenue is forecast to be broadly flat, which excluding the impact of the final year of Ofsted revenue in 2017 represents mid-single digit growth.

Commenting on its latest results, Ian Bowles, CEO, said: “I am very pleased with the 2017 results as they clearly demonstrate that the changes driven by management are having the positive impact anticipated. Representing twenty-two months of a three year turn around, it is my view that we are very much on track. Our customers, partners and the broader team at Tribal are seeing the benefit of a clear long-term strategy and commitment to the Education Sector.” 

Tribal Group plc

Divisional performance

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Student Management Systems








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Quality Assurance Solutions








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Note: Excludes central and group costs.

Tribal’s largest reporting segment, Student Management Systems, which focuses on HE, FE, Colleges & Employers, and Schools, principally in the UK, Australia and New Zealand, posted an adjusted operating profit of £17.6m for 2017 (2016: £12.0m), on revenue up 1.7% to £60.0m (2016: £59.0m). Excluding Synergy, revenue grew by 4.8% and adjusted operating profit by 60%.

Tribal says it saw significantly improved win rates in its UK FE and Work-based Learning businesses during 2017, and in HE, Tribal won new contracts with the University of Sheffield, Glasgow Caledonian University, University of South Wales and Heriot-Watt University. The company also secured its third HE customer in Malaysia at the University of Malaya.

In Australia, Tribal’s Callista business, which provides student information systems to 25% of Australian universities, finalised a A$27.5m four-year extension to its contract to migrate Callista into Tribal’s next generation, cloud-based solution - Tribal Edge – which was launched in July 2017.

In February 2018, Tribal announced a strategic partnership with Microsoft to accelerate the development and conversion of the current applications of SITS:Vision (HE) and ebs (FE) to the Tribal Edge framework operating on Microsoft’s Azure platform. A full beta programme of Tribal Edge is now underway with both HE and FE customers in the UK and in Australia, Tribal said.

Tribal is the number one provider of student information systems to HE and FE in the UK, Australia and New Zealand, and to training providers in the UK. For 2018, Tribal says it expects overall market conditions and demand for student management systems to remain stable.

Tribal’s Quality Assurance Solutions (QAS) business, which provides inspection and review services, and performance benchmarking (previously in i-graduate) in the UK, and internationally, including the Middle East and US, posted an adjusted operating profit of £4.4m (2016: £6.5m), on revenue down 21% to £17.8m (2016: £22.5m).

However, excluding Tribal’s Ofsted Early Years contract, the continuing QAS business grew 35% to £14.8m (2016: £10.9m). During 2017, QAS signed a two year, £8.4m contract with the Abu Dhabi Education Council, where Tribal is the sole supplier of school reviews in Abu Dhabi, and the Ministry of Education of Dubai & Northern Emirates. In 2018, the Ministry of Education in Dubai also awarded Tribal a contract for the review of private schools.

In the US, Tribal extended its contract with the New York State Education Department, and added a new customer, the Alabama State Education Department. Tribal also successfully retendered for the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Maths contract.

Tribal’s i-graduate business covers i-graduate student surveys and data analytics, as well as various non-core businesses not forming part of Student Management Systems or QAS. These services are provided to universities, colleges and schools. For 2017, the business delivered an adjusted operating profit of £1.1m (2016: £1.0m), on revenue down 18% to £7.1m (2016: £8.7m). The decline in revenue was mainly driven by the performance of the division’s non-core businesses, which Tribal says are transitioning to a “maintenance mode.” Revenue from the division’s core i-graduate student survey and data analytics activities fell 3.7% to £3.0m (2016: £3.1m).

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