HCL creates call centre jobs in Britain

Wednesday, 22 September 2004, 07:00 Hrs
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LONDON: British companies outsourcing call centre jobs to India is no longer news, but an Indian company creating call centre jobs in Britain? That sure is!

Indian IT major HCL BPO has announced an investment of 1.9 million pounds to create 250 call centre jobs in Belfast, taking unions and trade experts by surprise.

HCL currently employs 900 people in its call centre at Apollo Road in Belfast, an operation it took over from BT in 2001.

Announcing the new jobs, Northern Ireland Economy Minister Barry Gardiner said the investment was "especially significant as it reverses the trend".

He said: "Many similar call centres have relocated outside Northern Ireland. Here we have a leading company from India investing in Northern Ireland."

HCL's global strategy was to increase its business in Europe and the US and the expansion in Belfast would further consolidate the city as its key European base, he said.

The investment has been heavily backed by the province's business agency, Invest NI, which is providing 625,000 pounds in selective financial assistance and 295,000 pounds for further training through the Company Development Programme.

Ranjit Narasimhan, HCL chief operating officer in Belfast, said the company was expanding operations in the city to enable it to develop opportunities that had been identified in European markets, especially Britain.

"In addition to the scope that it will provide for further growth, the expansion is required to service a series of recent business contracts for a number of major new clients," he said.

Narasimhan said the availability of low cost labour was key in the decision to locate in Belfast.

"Belfast is an integral part of our business development strategy which now offers clients a blended and particularly cost-effective delivery of contact services," he said.

"This strategy enables clients to access higher value added services from Belfast together with those from lower cost centres in India."

Sinn Fein assembly member for South Belfast Alex Maskey welcomed the jobs announcement and said: "I particularly welcome the fact these jobs are being created in an area which has been identified as having special economic needs," Maskey said.

"I am hopeful this is a long term commitment by a leading Indian technology company and that it will work closely with the local community to enhance the skills base."

Alasdair McDonnel, another Assembly member, said: "It's ironic we are getting jobs from India instead of losing them but the announcement is welcome. I'm delighted Belfast and Northern Ireland is now building links with the US and India.

"And I'm delighted we are being used to connect these two countries as a middle man."

HCL reportedly employs 13,000 people worldwide, including a software development operation in England, and has sales in excess of 571 million pounds.

Source: IANS
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