Financial sustainability of our company is necessary to fulfil our ambitions. In 2022, operating income grew, driven by the nine Global Leading Markets and our presence in the Netherlands in line with our Stronger25 strategy. We focused our portfolio and invested in these markets through, for example, the acquisition of supply chain consultancy Districon.
In general markets conditions were good in 2022. The challenging conditions in some markets together with investments in our software business, increased operational costs and a one-off inflation payment to our employees had an impact on our profitability. As a result, our operating margin decreased to 4.3% (2021: 5.2%).
It is our ambition to maintain our top-line growth rate and improve our profitability. The outlook for 2023 is positive: our financial position remains healthy and new projects are underway while we concentrate on managing our operational costs.
Revenue and growth
Revenue increased by 13% from €619 million in 2021 to €699 million in 2022 of which 10% (2021: 1.9%) was organic revenue growth. Four out of our five business lines contributed to our revenue growth. Difficult market conditions in Southern Africa hampered our growth there.
Both in terms of revenues and in added value, the company made good progress. Added value increased by 12% and organic growth by 9%. Although the order intake was good in 2022, the utilisation rate remained at the same level as last year but included a firm focus on innovation and development alongside investment in building our digital business. This was directed towards developing consulting and software capabilities.
EBITA recurring ended at €29.8 million which is 7% lower than last year. Rising inflation increased our operational costs, particularly in areas such as energy and software. At the same time, we have been able to attract new staff and grow our company and we made strong and ambitious investment in our digital business.
With our employees also facing higher prices, we provided a one-off compensation payment to partially offset the increase. As a result of all the effects mentioned, our operating margin decreased to 4.3% (2021: 5.2%). A net result of €13.7 million (2021: €15.2 million) was reported.
The acquisition of Districon in April 2022 enables us to be even more effective in helping clients to design, organise and manage their supply chains in a sustainable, flexible, and efficient way using the latest digital technology.
We see an increasing trend in demand for software and technology projects, often as an integral part of more traditional engineering, design and consultancy projects. To meet this growing demand and help to futureproof our organisation, we are committed to expanding our digital and software business. In 2022, software and technology projects were responsible for a small percentage of the total revenue. Through the significant investment we are making in this area, we are confident that this emerging business will grow.
Our financial position remains healthy, with an equity ratio of 46% (2021: 44%) and a cash position of €147 million at the end of the year. We operate well within our bank covenants. The outlook for next year is positive with a sound order book of €346 million (2021: €334 million) and many new projects to come.
Our free cash flow in 2022 was €28.4 million negative (2021: €9.8 million positive). The acquisition of Districon together with an increase in our working capital and the start of the reconstruction of our new Delft office impacted our cash position. Having seen a significant reduction in days sales outstanding (DSO) in 2021, these increased to 73 days in 2022 (2021: 64 days).