Belfast Telegraph

IT giant Allstate turns losses into big profits as work continues on new offices in Belfast

By John Mulgrew

The Northern Ireland arm of US insurance giant Allstate has turned losses into big pre-tax profits of £5.6m in the space of a year.

Allstate NI, which employs around 1,300 staff in Belfast, also saw its turnover for 2015 increase by more than £10m to almost £90m.

It turned around a loss of £1.85m in 2014 to post strong profits of £5.6m.

The company was founded in January 1999 as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Allstate Corporation. It produces software and processing solutions for its parent company.

Allstate says it expects to maintain a "stable headcount" in 2016, while "continuing to balance profitability with global competitiveness".

In the company's directors' report, it says: "The directors believe that the company is well placed to manage business risk successfully despite the current uncertain economic outlook.

It adds that it has "sufficient financial resources for normal operations".

"Due to the commencement of a building project in 2016, the company expects to require funding from the parent company in the near future".

Just last month it broke ground on its new £30m headquarters in Belfast.

And the business says that "in the event of an extreme downturn in the US dollar to sterling exchange rate" that it can "avail of a parent company loan facility of up to $30m (£23m)".

Speaking about the new offices in east Belfast, it says that the development is due to be completed by early 2018.

It says the "significant project" to construct its new head office here "will bring all our Belfast-based staff into one location and provide high quality accommodation".

The company's workforce reduced slightly, dropping from 2,171 staff to 2,107.

That's based across its operations in Northern Ireland, including offices in Belfast, Londonderry and Strabane.

Allstate's new six-storey head office will be based close to Central Station in the city centre, and will create 150 construction jobs over the next two years.

The development will feature sociable working spaces, a restaurant, outdoor terrace and software development labs.

Allstate bought the land from Belfast City Council last year in a deal worth approximately £1.7m.

The office building is being developed by architects WDR & RT Taggart, in partnership with the Newry construction company O'Hare & McGovern.

The company got a new managing director earlier this year.

John Healy moved from Citi in Belfast, where he was head of the service centre.

Allstate's former managing director Bro McFerran retired last year and was replaced by Opal Perry as interim managing director.

Speaking about the new office, Mr Healy said: "The new Belfast office will be a ground-breaking facility for Allstate.

He added: "The new development increases the size of our current Belfast office and gives us the opportunity to create an inspirational working space fit for a world-class technology organisation with a commitment to innovation, imagination and building digital technology of the future."

Allstate NI is the largest IT employer in Northern Ireland. It was set up in 1999 as Northbrook Technology, before being re-branded 10 years later.

Belfast Telegraph