Trafficmaster zooms into profit and goes handheld

Picks up Yeoman and GPS/GSM technology then heads off carjacking
Written by Ron Coates, Contributor

Picks up Yeoman and GPS/GSM technology then heads off carjacking

Trafficmaster has picked up navigation specialist Yeoman as it pulled into its first profit for four years.

The car satellite navigation specialist turned in a second-half profit of £1.32m, making the year's profit £550,000, and it spent £2.15m buying Yeoman, which brought the GPS/GSM technology to lay the base for a move into the handheld market.

A new immobiliser product has also been launched to beat carjacking.

Stuart Berman, Trafficmaster's COO, said: "We've seen a great increase in 'keys-in' carjacking - where the keys are picked up from the house and the car just driven away. When our card and the keys are separated, the car is immobilised."

Yeoman, a long-established consumer navigation product maker, was hammered by the slow take-up of GPS phones in the UK. In the past three years it raised about £15m to fund the rollout of a pioneering mobile phone-based traffic and navigation system.

Berman said: "Yeoman was unfortunate. There has been a good rollout of GPS in the US, but it has stalled here." But he pointed out that all of Trafficmaster's US sales were of its transport-fleet navigation systems, when asked if he intended to market the system there.

Yeoman's star-studded board, led by Gordon Owen, previously chairman of Energis, MD of Cable & Wireless and chairman of Mercury Communications, will pursue their other interests.

Sales of Trafficmaster's flagship car navigation system Smartnav are on course to hit 28,000 this year. The company's system is based on satellite navigation and traffic sensors covering 7,000 miles of UK main roads.

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