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Tech sector a big winner as Deloitte Top 200 awards reflect the year of Covid

Peter Griffin, Contributor. 08 December 2020, 10:23 am

Consulting firm Deloitte's annual Top 200 awards featured a heavy weighting towards the tech sector this year, with Xero, Chorus, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare and tech visionary Ian Taylor taking out key awards.

Deloitte's Top 200 Index features the country's largest 200 companies by revenue, which collectively generated $173 billion in 2019. They span all sectors, from retail and agriculture to transport and construction.

But when it came time to choose some of the top performers of the year, Deloitte's team of judges leaned towards companies in tech-related industries.

The awards "recognised those businesses that have gone beyond simply responding and recovering, and are taking this opportunity to transform and rebuild for a stronger future," said Deloitte.

The criteria include the latest financial measures, as well as non-financial and other qualitative measures of organisational performance, such as corporate reputation, approach to environmental management and others.

Weighing up all of those factors Fisher & Paykel Healthcare named Company of the Year with chief executive Lewis Gradon winning Chief Executive Officer of the Year.

Rising to the Covid challenge

By any measure, it has been a massive year for the designer and manufacturer of high-quality health equipment. In the half-year to September 30, revenue was up 59 per cent to $910.2 million, while profit jumped 86 per cent to $225.5 million.

F&P Healthcare's hospital-related business internationally nearly doubled its revenue as it ramped up production to serve public health workers treating patients infected with Covid-19. The company's Optiflow and Airvo systems saw particularly strong demand.  

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"This reflected a worldwide change in clinical practice. Informed by emerging studies and anecdotal evidence, respiratory specialists began leading with nasal high flow therapy before resorting to ventilators," F&P Healthcare noted in its half-year results.

At the same time, the company retained its position as one of the country's largest investors in research and development, which accounted for seven per cent of operating revenue in the half-year, $64.4 million.

Xero, which won the Best Growth Strategy category, also had a big year on the back of helping small businesses navigate the impacts of Covid-19 with its cloud-based accounting services in strong demand.

In the half-year to September 30, Xero turned a net profit after tax of $34.5 million, up from $1.3 million in the previous half-year period.

Operating revenue was up 21 per cent to nearly $410 million.


Animation Research founder Ian Taylor

Road to recovery

Chorus won the Most Improved Performance award, reflecting a change in the company's fortunes that included a strong rally in its share price, which is up 21 per cent so far this year. That reflects the company being able to put regulatory uncertainty behind it and successfully rolling out the majority of the ultrafast broadband network. Though further regulatory pressures remain as the Commerce Commission looks to change how UFB wholesale prices are calculated.

Finally, the Visionary Leader award wen to Animation Research founder Ian Taylor, who had to re-organise his business to adapt to the new reality of the pandemic. Running graphics and animation services around the world for some of the top sports events, Taylor had to overcome travel restrictions to allow his team to operate remotely from Dunedin.

The year also saw him team up with Sam Morgan to push the deployment of a Covid card device to improve contact tracing efforts to fight the pandemic. That effort ended in frustration as the Government moved slowly on the programme, though Morgan and Taylor can take some comfort from the fact that trials of a similar Covid card are now underway.

There are 11 companies on the Deloitte Top 200 index that could be considered to be in the technology or telecommunications space, with Xero, Datacom, Spark among the biggest and multinationals IBM and Samsung also featuring.



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