Sumo Group in Sheffield has had a very good first half of the year and this is why

Games developer Sumo Group has been boosted by a strong market as demand for games continues to grow.

Carl Cavers, left, CEO of Sumo Group in Sheffield. Pic: Mark Bickerdike
Carl Cavers, left, CEO of Sumo Group in Sheffield. Pic: Mark Bickerdike

The Sheffield-based developer reported revenue of £20.8m for the six months ended 30 June 2019, up from £19.3m in the first half of the previous year.

Sumo also reported pre-tax profit of £1.3m, having registered a pre-tax loss of £2.1m for the same period in 2018.

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Carl Cavers, CEO of Sumo Group, put the revenue and profit growth down to the strength of the market.

Not only is demand increasing for more content but games are also becoming more complex, he added. This has led to the need for bigger teams.

Sumo, which has studios in Sheffield, Newcastle, Nottingham, Leeds, Leamington Spa and Pune, India, has seen its headcount grow by 15 per cent from 592 on December 31, 2018, to 679 on June 30, 2019. Just over 300 of the staff are based in Sheffield.

Mr Cavers told The Yorkshire Post: “We’ve worked hard to attract talent to the business. We’ve got a very sticky workforce.

“People love coming to work at Sumo because of the variety and quality of projects that they can work on.”

The fact that the business has operations across different locations means it can access different talent pools, Mr Cavers added.

Brexit is a consideration at the back of the firm’s mind when it comes to staffing but Sumo says clarity is beginning to emerge for members of its workforce from overseas.

Mr Cavers said: “When Brexit was first announced in 2016, it left an amount of uncertainty. We do have some clarity now over the right to remain for our workforce from overseas. We’re working hard to ensure that everybody is in a good position.

“I do think it has probably created a little bit of a challenge in attracting overseas potential employees but we’re not seeing a big impact at the moment. That may change. We’ll have to wait and see.”

The business also has also announced the appointment of industry heavyweight Ian Livingstone CBE as its new non-executive chairman.

He replaces Ken Beaty, who joined the board as chairman of Sumo Digital in 2014 and has chaired the Group since its Initial Public Offering (IPO) and admission to the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) in December 2017.

The appointment would be “instrumental for us and our vision in being able to develop the right games for the marketplace,” said Mr Cavers.

Mr Livingstone said he was “delighted” to take on the role of chairman. He added: “The business is flourishing and the industry is forecast to continue to grow rapidly over the coming years.”

Sumo Group acquired Red Kite Games earlier this year. Mr Cavers said Red Kite has added to the business “positively”.

“The guys came with contracts already,” Mr Cavers said, “and they were very ambitious to grow.”

Red Kite Games, which has 27 staff, is relocating from Huddersfield to Leeds city centre.

Mr Cavers said: “We announced last month that we were relocating the office from Huddersfield into the centre of Leeds to a much larger premises.

“We’re actively looking to increase headcount there by quite a large amount over the next couple of years.”

Gaming has become much more mainstream in recent years and gone are the days where it was seen as a pastime for boys.

“We’ve got a stat that shows in the US the average age of a gamer is 34,” Mr Cavers said. He added: “The demographic is 45 per cent female and 55 per cent male in the US. It is a widely socially accepted pastime now. It’s no longer seen as a niche.

“It is amazing how mainstream video games have become. It just demonstrates the fact that people want to be engaged in interactive entertainment.”