Capita Expands in Ireland | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

Capita has acquired SouthWestern Business Process Services Limited from private equity group Ion Equity, for €35m (£28m). SouthWestern provides customer relationship management, financial shared services, data processing and inspectorate services to private and public sector organizations. It has delivery centers in Ireland, the UK and Poland. Clients include the Department of Agriculture Food and Marine, Bord Gáis, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Bord Bia, Eircom and Failte Ireland.

SouthWestern is expecting revenues of €33.6m and an operating profit of €3.4m for 2014.

This is not the first Capita acquisition in Ireland. In 2011 it invested €33 million to acquire the international financial services business of Allied Irish Bank, AIBIFS. It integrated the acquired business with its own investor and banking services division, which at the time employed 2,000 people in Ireland, the rest of Europe, and India.

Capita already operates in Ireland, including as “servicer” to the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) and contracts with Prudential International Assurance, St James’s Place International and Ireland’s Department of Communications, and Energy and Natural Resources to manage the delivery of a new postcode system across the country.

In 2013 it opened new offices in Dublin and at the time it had a target of employing circa 800 people in Ireland. That target has grown to 1600 since and SouthWetsern brings circa 1000 FTEs. These are mostly based in two sites at Co Cork, at Clonakilty and Little Island, as well as at smaller sites in Lodz, Poland, Dublin and Milton Keynes in the UK.

SouthWestern enhances Capita’s contact center capabilities. It offers multilingual customer services, supporting in up to 14 languages with 24/7 voice and multichannel services. Its other services, such as financial services administration, debt collection and risk management are a good fit to Capita’s existing but currently largely UK-focused services. SouthWestern also brings Capita a bigger presence in the Irish public sector market, which it will be able to expand fast given its long and successful experience in the UK public sector.

Capita’s plans for SouthWestern are ambitious. It is aiming to more than double SouthWestern’s operating profit to €7m and increase its revenue by 40% to €47m in 2016. An investment in SouthWestern’s IT systems in 2015 is to support this growth. Another factor to take into account is a strong pipeline of opportunities. In its H1 204 results, Capita indicated a pipeline of £5.7bn. These included 27 bids of which 90% relates to new business and 10% to contract renewals.

Both Capita and SouthWestern have delivery centers in Poland (Krakow and Lodz respectively). The Polish centers are likely to be consolidated but any additional capacity would help Capita with its plans for growth in Continental Europe. The move to expand into Europe was signaled by Capita’s acquisition of tricontes, a specialist customer management company based in Munich, Germany, for an undisclosed sum in July 2014.

While Capita has always been very acquisitive, a strategy for expansion beyond UK borders is emerging since the new head, Andy Parker, took over from long-term CEO Paul Pindar, this year. We will be watching this space to provide additional commentary in the future.


Photo credit: Charles Clegg

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