Call Centre Investment Lifts Financial Gloom

Although there was some bad news today for the Dublin-based Ulster Bank with massive losses recorded by its parent company, better tidings were being announced by the North's Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster.

She revealed a major expansion for a border county as a call centre, Teleperformance, is set to deliver £10 million annually into the North's economy following the creation of 610 new jobs.

It is good news that eclipses the net annual losses revealed by Royal Bank of Scotland of £24.1billion, which prompted Ulster Bank Chief Executive Cormac McCarthy to insist today: "We've got a very good franchise and customers, and in the long run our business will be solid."

In counterpoint to the huge banking losses, Invest Northern Ireland is upbeat and has offered over £3 million of support towards the investment at Teleperformance's Newry base.

The French-owned firm operates two customer contact centres in Newry and Bangor. It is a global leader in the provision of outsourced business services to an international client base which includes the retail, telecommunications, banking, travel and health sectors.

The new positions will range from customer service advisor level to operations management.

"This is a significant investment by an established company which will provide a welcome boost to the local economy," said the Minister.

"By the time all positions are filled, Teleperformance will have almost 2,000 people based at its Newry and Bangor sites, making the firm one of this region's largest employers."

Jeff Smith, Chairman and Chief Executive of Teleperformance added: "With the demand for outsourcing increasing as companies look for more cost effective methods of managing key business activities, we identified a need for a major expansion at one of our UK sites which would support the development of new business opportunities across Europe.

"Invest NI worked closely with us. Their offer of support, combined with the availability of suitable property and our positive experiences in Northern Ireland over the past 11 years, resulted in our decision to invest further in the Newry site."

The Ulster Bank group has meanwhile reported a 76% slump in operating profits as the deterioration in global and local market conditions impacted its performance.

Ulster Bank said that operating profits fell to £117m sterling (€147m) while total income decreased by 2% to £1.269 billion. Average loans and advances to customers were up 9% to £60 billion.

The bank's impairment losses rose to £394m, which it said reflected the impact on credit quality due to the slowdown in the Irish economy. It said it saw a significantly increased flow of cases into the 'problem debt management process'.

See: Ex-RBS Boss Urged To Give Up Pension, As 'Largest Annual Losses' Announced


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