Mobile loyalty company Plexure Group posted a $7.9 million loss in the 12 months to March 31 amid challenging Covid-induced conditions and said a key issue now was finding staff.
The loss compared with the previous year's profit of $1m.
Plexure's share price fell 10 per cent to 68c following the result.
"Market conditions improved in the second half of the year. However, several deals stalled in the final stages, although we remain confident that they will come to fruition," Plexure chair Phil Norman said.
The company did not provide earnings guidance for the year ahead.
The Auckland-based firm, which cites McDonald's as one of its biggest clients, increased its revenue by 15 per cent to $29.1m in the period. Its reoccurring revenue from licence and support fees increased by 14 per cent to $18.3m.
But the company said its growth in the year was "slower than anticipated" due to the impact of Covid-19, although market conditions improved in the second half of the year.
Plexure struggled to hire and retain qualified staff to support its growth ambitions throughout the year. Its staff headcount ended the year at 150 - compared to 163 at the end of its half-year, and well below its target of 190 staff.
The company said steps were being taken to adjust remuneration and increase flexibility to address these issues while the borders remain closed.
"The biggest risk to our business is not being able to hire the staff to execute on our plan," Plexure said in its results presentation.
"We are seeing shortages in all skill sets and more specifically in skilled engineers and data scientists ... We are now looking at options outside of Auckland that include hubs around New Zealand and also outside of New Zealand."
Norman said the board of the technology firm remained positive about the future of the business, "having come through a difficult year well-placed to continue its growth strategy".
"The Covid-19 pandemic has presented some unexpected challenges. However, the senior leadership team has dealt with them decisively and effectively, limiting the impact of the pandemic. Whilst we have not secured the level of sales hoped for in FY21, we're confident that increasing sales and marketing staff in multiple jurisdictions, specifically Asia, the US and Europe, will enable this."
Plexure ended the year with $42.4m in the bank after raising $31.6m of capital via a secondary listing on the ASX and a further $5m from a New Zealand Share Purchase Plan.
Its capital raising to accelerate new product development and platform enhancements led to an increase in its operating cost base – up 53 per cent to $36.9m.
Expenses associated with the capital raising and ASX listing were major factors for its increase in professional costs of $1.6m in the period.
Salary and contractor costs increased by $7.4m in the period to $20.2m.
Chief executive Craig Herbison said although company revenue continued to grow through FY21, the rate of growth decreased as the impact of Covid-19 "precipitated a slowdown in new sales activity, coupled with lower volumes of activity from existing customers".
"We undertook capital raising to accelerate new product and feature development and the platform enhancements required to support much larger user numbers and activity levels," Herbison said, reflecting on the year.
"Bolstering of the platform's capacity as well as the company's sales and marketing capability lifted our operating cost base. Of the $12.7m increase in costs, wage and staff costs contributed 59 per cent of that increase, while platform, IT costs contributed 23 per cent.
"The increase in platform users and activity has elevated IT costs from $6.4m to $9.3m, up 44 per cent, which included some dual running costs as we moved parts of our platform between cloud providers."
Herbison said "re-architecting and enhancing the platform" remained a key focus for the business as it looked to market recovery post Covid-19.
The company works with McDonald's in 63 markets around the world and White Castle, Super Indo and Loyalty NZ and says it has 240 million users on its platform.
Herbison told the Herald the outlook for the company in the year ahead was "good".
"As the world recovers from Covid, businesses will become more confident, capital will be released for projects," Herbison said.
Plexure's platform was what brands needed now more than ever and Herbison said he was confident more brands would sign on to the platform in the current financial year.
He said the first two months of FY22 were off to a good start for the company, "as planned".
"We already have 240 million people registered on the platform worldwide, we're building that so it can handle half a billion. There's some product work that we've done that we're in amidst of building as well and [work] on sales and marketing; putting pods of sales and marketing professionals in markets that we are looking to serve.
"Different from previous years where we've been very US-centric, we're seeing good new business flow coming out of Asia and Europe, so with the capital we now have we're putting sales and marketing people in those markets."