Belfast Telegraph

Firstsource 'to avoid job cuts' as it moves out of Belfast city centre

By John Mulgrew

Call centre and outsourcing firm Firstsource says it will avoid job cuts after as it's revealed the firm is moving out of its Belfast city centre base.

It's understood staff at the Indian-owned firm's base at Oyster House are now being offered the chance to move to other roles, including working on accounts for Sky customers in the Republic of Ireland.

Many of the Belfast staff are currently working on Sky contracts in the UK.

The firm confirmed that its lease of Oyster House at the corner of Wellington Place and Upper Queen Street, will come to an end from February 2018.

That follows plans to refurbish the building by developer Gareth Graham.

A spokesman said: "I can confirm that Firstsource's lease of Oyster House in Belfast has been terminated, with effect from February 25, 2018 to allow for the redevelopment of the site by the landlord.

"It is not expected that Firstsource's departure from Oyster House will result in any job losses and we are working closely with our employees currently located at Oyster House to find suitable alternatives, including working from other Firstsource sites in Belfast and home working." It's understood around 200 employees currently work at the city centre base.

However, it's not clear whether all of those staff will be offered alternative work elsewhere with the company.

At the start of 2017, it was revealed Firstsource was cutting up to 90 jobs in Belfast.

The firm, which provides outsourcing for companies including Sky, employs around 1,500 people in Northern Ireland.

In February last year, Firstsource said it had reached a new 10-year customer service deal with the satellite broadcaster.

Firstsource employs over 27,000 employees worldwide, across 44 centres.

More than 1,500 of its global workforce are based in Northern Ireland.

A spokesman for the company at the time said:

"Firstsource is fully committed to the Northern Ireland marketplace and is continuing to invest in the region.

"As part of our long-standing relationship with Sky, we have been working with them to maximise the customer experience we provide through our service operation in Belfast.

"As a result, we are reducing the scale of operations in our Oyster House centre and this will likely impact around 90 employees."

The company had said it will try to "redeploy" affected staff to other centres.

The bulk of the firm's Northern Ireland workforce is based in Londonderry, with around 950 workers. Its current home, Oyster House, is being redeveloped as part of a £20m investment.

Gareth Graham's Merchant Square project will see Oyster House in Belfast undergo a series of renovations and extensions. It was given the go ahead by planners in August.

The first phase of the scheme was granted planning permission at the end of 2016, for the refurbishment and extension of Oyster House and Royston House, on the corner of Wellington Place and Upper Queen Street.

The proposal will add an extra 2,115 sq metres of office space.

Merchant Square will help transform a "significant part of Wellington Place, and upon completion will provide retail and office space totalling in excess of 250,000 sq ft", according to developers.

The revamp is expected to be completed by 2019.

Belfast Telegraph

Weekly Business Digest Newsletter

This week's business news headlines, directly to your inbox every Tuesday.