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Keywords reports strong 2019 performance amid COVID-19 doubts

Revenue up 30% last year, but the company declines to offer guidance for 2020 due to pandemic disruption

Keywords Studios recorded a 30% rise in revenue in 2019, even as its profits declined by more than 20%.

In the year ended December 31, 2019, Keywords earned €326.5 million in revenue, up 30% over the previous year. The company made a net profit of €17.4 million, down 21% year-on-year.

In part, that decline in profit was due to Keywords' busy acquisition strategy, which has been a feature of its growth for many years. In 2019, it bought eight companies: Sunny Side Up, GetSocial, Wizcorp, Descriptive Video Works, TV+Synchron, Ichi, Syllabes and Kantan.

Last month, Keywords was criticised for its alleged practices in response to the outbreak of COVID-19, including the accusation that staff were made to work from offices while management shifted to remote operations.

In its annual report, Keywords said that 5,500 of its staff are now working from home, and it is "in discussion with remaining clients to move more production staff to this model, particularly in testing, where we hope to reduce the number of people currently in furlough arrangements."

Keywords CEO Andrew Day and CFO Jon Hauck are both taking a 20% reduction in pay until further notice, while a number of executives and non-executive directors are taking unspecified pay cuts.

The company offered no guidance on its performance for the current year.

"While we are seeing some operational disruption to the provision of our services due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with some of our service lines and locations affected more than others, the underlying drivers of growth across the video games market remain intact," said CEO Andrew Day in a statement.

"There will be some further challenges ahead, but we are well financed, with a global footprint, a unique position in a resilient market, and a strong team to manage the business through these unprecedented times."

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