Sun, Sep 26, 2004 - Page 11 News List

Indian firm outsourcing work to Northern Ireland

AFP , BELFAST

As British unions cry foul over an exodus of jobs to Asia, one Indian information technology firm is bucking the trend, hiring 250 more staff at a call center in Northern Ireland.

The recruitment drive by HCL BPO, a subsidiary of HCL Technologies, one of India's biggest global IT services and product engineering companies, is part of a £1.9 million (US$3.4 million) investment.

HLC currently employs 900 people in its call center in south Belfast, an operation it took over from British Telecom in 2001.

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

"Many similar call centers have relocated outside Northern Ireland. Here we have a leading company from India investing in Northern Ireland," he said.

HCL's 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 in financial assistance and a further £295,000 for training.

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 the UK.

They were looking for a "quality provider of contact services to major clients in retail, banking and commercial sectors," he said.

"Belfast is an integral part of our business development strategy which now offers clients a blended and particularly cost-effective delivery of contact services. This strategy enables clients to access higher value added services from Belfast together with those from lower cost centers in India," he said.

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