We were delighted to see mobile phone telephone company Three officially open its new Customer Service Centre in Waterford on Thursday morning last, which we report upon on News 9 of this week’s edition.
The Centre, which is located in the custom built IDA building near the Holy Cross in Butlerstown, directly opposite Whitfield Clinic, is initially employing 130, with Indian company Tech Mahindra heading up this new tele-centre operation.
As we were told at last Thursday’s official launch, several other Irish locations, including Dublin and Limerick, were considered by Tech Mahindra, so in that context, their choosing Waterford represents a most significant development.
Waterford now has a growing level of expertise and a reputation for excellence when it comes to the call centre/communications sector, when one also considers the respective presences of Eishtec and Rigney Dolphin.
And when one considers how this sector has revitalised itself in the wake of the Talk Talk closure, it’s clear that there’s a resilience in Waterford which merits recognition.
Great credit is due to Three Ireland Chief and Waterford native Robert Finnegan for bringing the jobs to the Deise which could, should the climate continue to improve, lead to as many as 300 jobs in Butlerstown.
Robert is also a great supporter of the Waterford hurling and football teams as evidenced through the renewal of his company’s sponsorship of both teams at the end of last year, and he’s also a keen support of local soccer and rugby.
It would appear that Waterford is now on something of an upward curve in terms of job creation after five-plus years of declining job figures.
As a location it is now more competitive in terms of cost of living, rental and house prices so we may attract work from bigger centres like Dublin (described by Minister Paudie Coffey as “a vortex”) and where there are higher living and wage costs.
Tech Mahindra, we understand, is a massive company with 90,000 staff spread across 50 countries providing services to many international companies.
If this operation works well perhaps there is an opportunity to expand the Waterford operation with other contracts; while the decline of the euro against sterling may also help.
Tech Mahindra not only engage customer service but are an active operator in financial services, tele communications, energy work, the utility sector and pharmaceuticals, where Waterford has also developed expertise in recent years.
A media statement from the IDA suggests that this could, in time, lead to other investments, which we badly need here. Tech Mahindra is still recruiting at present and an open day is planned.
Three, having taken over O2, is now the second largest mobile operator in Ireland with two million customers and they have very competitive phone packages.
It has invested over €2 billion in the Irish network, a massive demonstration of confidence in our economy and it is great to see a Waterford man such as Robert Finnegan in charge; he also picked up a Sunday Times business award recently.
Three is ultimately owned by Hutchison Whampoa with a headquarters in Hong Kong and employs 260,000 worldwide across a wide range of businesses.
Wouldn’t it be great if they made further investments in Waterford in the future? And who knows, perhaps the city is finally making a comeback after some very tough years. We’ll have more on this sense of optimism in next week’s edition.