Premier sees record sales of Raspberry Pi

The new Raspberry Pi 2.
The new Raspberry Pi 2.
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Electronics distributor Premier Farnell said sales of the new Raspberry Pi 2 mini-computer, which teaches children the basics of how computers work, are way ahead of expectations.

The Leeds-based company said February was a record month for sales of the credit card sized computer.

Farnell’s chief executive Laurence Bain said: “The launch in February went really well. We saw a record month for Raspberry Pi in February and it’s ahead of plan.

“I’d say it’s 40 per cent ahead of levels expected at the launch and this performance has continued into March.”

The original Raspberry Pi mini-computer took the tech world by storm.

The new version is six times faster with double the memory, but costs the same as the original version at £23.

Premier Farnell, which distributes the Pi through its element14 website, said the original plan was to sell three million of the credit card-sized computers a year.

Raspberry Pi was designed to teach children the basics of how computers work in an age when many are so accustomed to high-tech computers they have no idea how to fix them when they go wrong.

The makers likened these children to car drivers who have no idea what to do when their car breaks down - they lift up the bonnet and don’t have a clue how it works.

In the year to February 1, Premier Farnell reported underlying sales growth of 3.3 per cent to £960.1m and adjusted operating profit of £88.0m, which was flat on a constant currency basis.

Pre-tax profits fell 7.6 per cent to £69.1m.

“The past financial year has been a challenging period for Premier Farnell as we position ourselves for future profitable growth,” said Mr Bain.

He said that the group’s investments will enable it to implement strategic growth initiatives.

“By improving our growth trajectory, reducing costs and completing the transformation of element14, we believe that Premier Farnell is well positioned to deliver improved financial performance.

“We have made a satisfactory start to the year and our expectations for the current financial year remain unchanged,” he added.

The group is cutting costs by £10m to £12m a year.

These will include job cuts among managers, but numbers are yet to be decided.

As part of the globalisation of the business, duplicate roles will be removed.

“Instead of three product managers for the same segment, we will only have one,” said Mr Bain.

“We’ve involved 100 senior managers across the organisation. They are really excited about the model. There will be some rationalisation.”

The group has around 4,600 staff in total and it said the job cuts would affect managers more than anyone else. It has around 700 managers.

Analyst Robin Speakman at Shore Capital said: “Revenues at £960m, as adjusted for negative currency, are around £6m below our forecasts.

“EBITA at £88.0m are £800,000 higher however. This benefit is seen at the adjusted pre-tax profit level which is £1.0m higher than our forecast at £74.0m.

“With little commentary on the outlook, we expect to retain our current forecast stance on Premier Farnell, which is for underlying recovery in trading coming through across the group, but particularly in North America – now benefiting from stronger currency translation.”

The group said that against a mixed economic backdrop, Europe delivered full year sales growth of 1.9 per cent year on year.

Excluding Raspberry Pi, European sales increased 2.5 per cent year on year.

The firm said market conditions in the UK remain challenging, despite encouraging manufacturing statistics, and the business reported a year on year sales decline of 3.4 per cent in the second half.

Continental Europe reported sales growth of 5.6 per cent year on year in the second half led by Germany, Italy, Spain, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe.