Versarien PLC (LON:VRS) Chief Executive Officer Neill Ricketts caught up with DirectorsTalk for an exclusive interview to discuss their final results for the year ended 31st March 2017
Q1: Neill, Versarien PLC have released your annual results for the year to 31st March today, can you talk us through the highlights?
A1: Yes, sure. So, obviously really pleased to get the results out so early, we’re probably at least 2 or 3 weeks earlier than we were last year so that’s good. Looking at the highlights, they’re split into 2 different segments, we’ve got the financial highlights; the group revenues were up by 35% to almost £6 million and we’re seeing a recovery in the oil and gas industry which would have knocked the figures back slightly so we’re pleased about that. We’ve got net assets have also gone up to £6.5 million so we’ve used shareholders’ cash well and then we’ve got the loss before tax which has gone down slightly to £1.2 million and we’re busy working on getting the group to break even just as quickly as we can.
Q2: The key focus for Versarien is obviously on graphene, can you update us on the progress and the applications that you’ve been looking at?
A2: The operational highlights which are the other part of the news is that we’re receiving substantial amounts of enquiries from very large blue-chip companies across the world. Myself, I’ve been on a bit of a whistle-stop tour of the world; Mexico, South Korea, Japan, Berlin, Spain, just to name a few where we are picking up major enquiries from very large companies. That’s a bit of a double-edged sword because it means that we’re also under huge amounts of pressure and we’re working really hard and we’re just going through that whole process. So, the process is very much about signing NDA’s, getting into development programmes and getting these products out into the market. It sort of follows on from the very large order that we had at the beginning of the year to supply what is probably the first graphene product in the world and what we now know is the product that we’re making is the right product, it’s the product that everybody wants so we’ve just got to get out there and get is sold really. So, that’s my main focus at the moment.
Q3: You’ve mentioned that Versarien are receiving a significant number of enquiries from potential customers, what is likely to be the key to commercial adoption?
A3: What we know is that there are a number of different things which are being wanted by our customers and the one that is most relevant at the moment, and the one we have the most test data about, actually is carbon fibre composite materials. The company itself has got some significant plans in that area, we now know that the stuff we’re manufacturing, when added to carbon fibre composites, is giving very very good results, in fact, that first product that was launched a couple of months ago was a carbon fibre product so we know that’s the one that is most advanced at the moment. There are number of other applications which are also moving ahead quickly, the use of our materials in 3D printing materials to offset some of the mechanical properties and we’ve got some very exciting news in that we’ve launched our first graphene enhanced ABS product, we’re just getting around now to getting that into the market, selling that to distributors
Q4: Moving away from graphene, how are the other businesses in the group are performing?
A4: So, all very well. We’ve got some challenges as every business has, the oil and gas industry has been through one of the biggest and longest downturns that I’ve ever known in my career and I’ve been supplying oil and gas for 20 years but that looks to have come out the other side.
The factory is busy, we’ve managed to relocate it into a purpose-built facility and we hope to bring our shareholders there and just have a look at it, kick the tyres and ask directors any difficult questions they might have.
AAC, our injection moulding company, is doing well and again, there’s a lot of work being done around introducing graphene into some of their products to enhance their offering, give them a unique position in the market.
Then we’ve got our thermal products where we’re still continuing to receive a number of very large enquiries from big players that we need to try to fit with the capacity and capability that we have.
So, overall, very very buoyant at the moment, very very excited about all the graphene news and we’ve made some significant progress in terms of getting Versarien into a position now where it’s starting to grow at a great rate.