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US firm Revel Systems promised 89 jobs for Belfast, was offered a £700k kickstart but shuts up shop after seven months

Exclusive: California-based Revel Systems arrived in the city amid much fanfare

By John Mulgrew

Published 30/07/2015

Ministers Arlene Foster and Stephen Farry with chief technology officer
and co-founder of Revel Systems Chris Ciabarra at the launch in Belfast last year
Ministers Arlene Foster and Stephen Farry with chief technology officer and co-founder of Revel Systems Chris Ciabarra at the launch in Belfast last year

A US software firm in line for £700,000 in taxpayer funding to create 89 jobs in Belfast has shut its office after just seven months, it can be revealed.

California-based Revel Systems arrived in the city amid much fanfare during a media launch with ministers Arlene Foster and Stephen Farry in December.

It was earmarked to receive £445,000 from Invest NI and a further £245,000 in training support from the Department for Employment and Learning. (DEL).

But in an email from DEL seen by the Belfast Telegraph, more than a dozen trainees who were due to start work for the firm were told that the company was closing it office.

"We have just been made aware by our colleagues in Invest NI that Revel Systems are closing their office in Belfast," it said.

"We appreciate that you were offered employment by the company and were not all started and would like alternative opportunities."

The San Francisco firm had initially been offered almost £700,000 of Stormont funds.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment told the Belfast Telegraph: "Invest NI is currently engaging with Revel Systems in the US regarding the company's presence in Belfast. It is not appropriate to comment further at this stage.

"To date, Revel Systems has not received any financial support from Invest NI."

But £43,000 from DEL was paid to a further education college towards training for the firm's would-be academy trainees.

A DEL spokesman insisted that no money had been paid to the company directly.

Conor Charlton (28), one of the trainees, was continually told his start date for the firm had been pushed back. He said he was appalled at how he and a dozen others were treated.

"It's far too many people who have had their time wasted, with friends thinking they were waiting to start a job," he added.

"I'm lucky that I'm still living at home, but I have had to find work elsewhere."

The software business set up a small operation on the Dublin Road, but yesterday there was no response at the office.

It remains unclear how many of the 89 jobs the company had claimed it would be creating were filled before the announcement.

Revel Systems sells iPad-based point-of-sale systems to retailers and restaurants, and reports have valued the firm at around $400m (£250m).

It is understood the would-be employees were told that the company was having serious issues with its original office premises due to circumstances beyond its control.

The company also reassured the academy trainees that it was planning to start rolling out the new positions in June and July this year.

But the email sent by DEL states that "Revel Systems are closing their office in Belfast" and that the initial proposed posts no longer exist.

In a statement the company said it had "temporarily suspended operations of its Belfast office to re-evaluate the office's particular scope and scale but has not made any decision to formally close it at this time".

It added it was working to open offices elsewhere in Europe and would work with Invest NI "to determine future plans" here.

The company also stated it had not received any funds from Invest NI's proposed grant.

Belfast Telegraph

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