Belfast Telegraph

We're hiring... US tech company courts spurned Belfast trainees

By John Mulgrew

Trainees due to start work at a major US software firm which shut its Belfast office after just seven months have been offered the chance to interview for a role at a similar IT company.

US firm ShopKeep is asking trainees who were set to start work with Revel Systems earlier this year to contact the company about similar roles.

It set up its Belfast office last year, and has already hired more than 30 staff.

Both firms develop point-of-sale products for iPads.

A spokesman for the company yesterday urged disappointed Revel Systems trainees to get in touch. ShopKeep said it is "dedicated" to Northern Ireland and is keen to take on those who have the key skills and training involved in such a software role.

It comes after the Belfast Telegraph revealed software firm Revel Systems, which was in line for £700,000 in taxpayer funding to create 89 jobs in Belfast, had shut after just seven months.

But £43,000 from the Department for Employment and Learning (DEL) was spent on training more than a dozen would-be staff, who were subsequently offered jobs with Revel Systems. They were then left high and dry after being told the company had shut its Belfast operation. Revel arrived in the city amid much fanfare including a media launch with ministers Arlene Foster and Stephen Farry in December.

The company has said its Belfast operation is "suspended" while negotiations with Invest NI continue. But it is understood the office has closed.

Conor Charlton (28) is one of the trainees, who 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 by Revel Systems. The firm had originally been earmarked to receive £445,000 from Invest NI and a further £245,000 in training support from the DEL.

But according to both, the firm did not directly receive any of the proposed grant.

Meanwhile, ShopKeep, which is offering the trainees a chance to work for the firm, this week secured an additional $60m (£39m) in funding to break into the UK and Ireland market.

The firm has already hired about 35 people over the last 18 months and intends to accelerate that hiring rate as it grows its presence here.

ShopKeep is a cloud-based tech firm that offers business management solutions and is used by 18,000 independent merchants in the US.

It formed in 2008 and has developed an iPad point-of-sale system for retail shops, bars and restaurants. ShopKeep, which is based in New York, turns a tablet computer into a till, barcode scanner, and chip and pin machine.

Belfast Telegraph