Merger of French IT firms is a perfect fit for Belfast
The Belfast offices of two of France's oldest IT firms are set to merge, it can be revealed. Some 32 staff from the former Sopra firm will be moving from their offices close to City Airport and joining 30 former Steria workers at their Belfast base.
It comes after the two stalwarts of the French IT world joined forces in 2014 - becoming Sopra Steria.
It's understood no jobs will be lost as a result of the integration.
Sopra Steria is now worth a reported €3.4bn (£2.5bn) across its global businesses.
It said the benefits of the Belfast merger "include a stronger local business presence in Northern Ireland and the ability for Sopra Steria teams to work more closely together".
The firm works across a wide spectrum in IT, including service delivery and software.
And closer to home it has worked on a number of Northern Ireland Civil Service contracts.
That includes projects such as the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) and records management. And Sopra Steria is also hoping to begin taking on new workers through Northern Ireland's ICT apprenticeship programme.
It could mean additional jobs being added to the firm's Belfast workforce over the coming years.
The firm boasts a 5,000-strong workforce in the UK, and works across 20 countries - where it employs a total of 35,000 staff based across the globe.
Alison McLaughlin, who heads up Sopra Steria's Northern Ireland operations, said it "strengthens what we can offer to organisations across Northern Ireland. By joining together as one team, we know we have a huge amount to offer our Northern Ireland customers - from high-level strategic advice to practical, hands-on services to help transform and support their operations," she said.
"Given our ambition to further develop our business in Northern Ireland, we also have a lot to offer bright individuals looking for a challenging yet rewarding career.
"Bringing Sopra and Steria together into one organisation really strengthens what we can offer to organisations across Northern Ireland."
Staff will be moved across to the existing Upper Queen Street offices in Belfast from March 16.
Michael Noble, chief executive of Momentum, which represents the digital sector, said the move was "good news as it shows how dynamic the whole sector is".
"Nothing stands still, one day to the next - the merger is good news and I think it is the case that the sum is greater than the total of the parts," he said. "With the group merging, it makes a lot of sense and it's good news for staff as they are part of a much bigger business."