‘THE future looks bright,’ was the optimistic prediction of Paddy Morrissey, the managing director of the Clonakilty firm formerly known as SouthWestern.
Now trading as Capita Customer Solutions, the outsourcing firm employs 530 staff in West Cork, and a further 120 people in Little Island in East Cork.
‘We have significant plans for growth,’ added Morrissey, days after the firm rebranded under its new owner, the UK-headquartered Capita, which itself employs over 1,700 people in Ireland alone.
Capita has fingers in many industries’ pies in this country, including banking, life and pensions, the public sector, agriculture, telecoms, utilities, and travel. Its businesses in Ireland now include Capita Customer Solutions, Capita Asset Services, Capita Life and Pensions, Capita Managed IT Solutions and Capita Integrated Business Solutions.
SouthWestern, which was established as SWS in 1957, also has an impressive list of clients, in both the private and public sectors.
Current customers include the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB), Irish Rail, Bord Gais, Independent News & Media, the Department of Environment, Department of Agriculture, and more.
There are many synergies between the Cork firm and its new parent, but plenty of room for growth too, says Morrissey.
The Tipperary-born managing director took over the top role from former MD Jim Costello last year, who became chairman.
‘I may be a Tipp supporter, but I spent a lot of my life in Cork,’ he told The Southern Star this week, revealing that he is a past pupil of Ardscoil Pobail in Bantry, having lived there when his father worked at the local AIB.
After school, he studied accountancy in CIT and later worked with KPMG in the Channel Islands, Fortis in Dublin and Fexco in Killorglin in Co Kerry.
He moved to SouthWestern in 2008 and, after a few months of a ridiculous commute from Kerry, Paddy decided to move the family to Clonakilty, where they have recently built a house.
Since then he has watched the outsourcing firm grow steadily. ‘In 2007, there were 320 people in this business, now we have 950 between Ireland and Poland, and the site in Clonakilty is nearly full.
‘Business doubled between 2007 and 2014, and the staff more than doubled,’ he pointed out.
‘We are now in the process of realigning our business,’ he said, referring to the changes brought on board after the company’s acquisition by Capita.
‘Capita is a vast organisation,’ he said, ‘but they have great technology, a lot of insight and analytics. We have some of that ourselves, but we are looking to bring in more clients and this is part of the solution.’
Capita in Clonakilty’s main rivals in this space are Abtran in Cork city and, to a lesser extent, Fexco in Kerry – a company Paddy Morrissey is very familiar with, of course.
He said the Cork arm of Capita has a number of ‘verticals’, including financial/admin collection, which accounts for about 20% of the business, the inspectorate and assurance business accounts for about 15%, customer care is about 40% and registration and traceability (eg calf passports, for example) takes up about another 15%.
Other clients in the Capita Cork portfolio are Vodafone, Eir and Irish Distillers, said Morrissey, adding that the Brexit vote is not causing too many worries for the firm. ‘With Brexit, there are a lot of things to happen yet. For our business, it doesn’t mean a significant amount. About 90% of Capita’s revenue business in the UK is in sterling. We are just focussed on working with the customers that we have. We are building deeper relationships and aggressively hunting for new business.’
He added that Capita has a ‘very professional sales engine’ in that regard, as the firm is now part of a FTSE 100-quoted company, providing it with ‘deep financial backing’.
He said: ‘I see a good future for us. The key thing for us is that we are committed to growing the business and growing more employees in the Cork region. Looking forward, I believe we will continue to grow in Clonakilty. The Clonakilty site is absolutely safe,’ he said.