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Nautronix profits soar amid oil and gas services boom

NAUTRONIX Marine Technology Solutions, the subsea communications specialist, has seen a near-80% profit rise and highlighted the recruitment challenges firms face amid buoyant conditions in the oil and gas market.

Aberdeen-based Nautronix made a £2 million pre-tax profit in the year leading up to June, which was up by 54% on the £1.3m in the year before, following a sharp increase in business.

Accounts filed at Companies House show turnover increased by 42% in the year to £16.2m, from £11.4m in the preceding year.

The growth provides a further sign of the boom in services activity that has been triggered by surging investment by oil and gas firms in areas like the North Sea.

Companies have been trying to boost output to meet strong demand for energy.

However, the directors report notes that Nautronix's growth has entailed complications given the fierce competition for staff which has developed in areas like Aberdeen. Fast-growing oil and gas firms are recruiting from a limited pool of people with the specialised skills they need.

Nautronix develops accoustic technologies that can be used to position and monitor rigs and similar facilities.

It had 107 employees at June 30, up from 83 at the end of 2012.

"With a buoyant oil and gas industry the company has seen a higher-than-planned turnover in staff in the year," wrote the directors.

"The company continues to ensure that the remuneration packages offered are competitive whilst there was significant investment in all facilities to ensure that employees have comfortable surroundings ... Other benefits are being looked at or have been introduced."

The company paid £4,636,666 wages and salaries in the year to June.

Dividing this number by the average monthly number of 97 employees, it paid an average salary of £47,800 in the year.

A record 98% of oil and gas services firms in Scotland expect to recruit staff according to survey findings released last week by Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce.

"The findings reveal that the industry's growth is being constrained by skills shortages in key areas," said the chamber.

It is cooperating with industry body OPITO and others to produce what it expects to be an authoritative industry report examining skills gaps in the sector for publication in early 2014.

Nautronix's success will likely be regarded with satisfaction by SCF Partners. The US private equity operation took control of Nautronix from Aberdeen oil and gas entrepreneur Ian Suttie in 2010, in what was reported to have been a £42m deal.

Mr Suttie reportedly paid £15.5m to buy the worldwide operations of Nautronix from their Australian owners in 2002.

Nautronix paid £3,525,635 wages and salaries in the year to June 2012. Dividing this number by the average monthly number of 73 employees, it paid an average salary of £48,300.

The company had a higher proportion of staff in office and management roles, rather in engineering and warehousing functions, than in the following year.

Directors earned total remuneration of £215,000 in the latest year, compared with £203,000 in the preceding 12 months.

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