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Stream To Shrink Northern Ireland Contact Centers

July 30, 2009

Stream Global Services, one of the first contact center firms to set up in Northern Ireland with the stabilization of this long-troubled region, is shrinking its centers there but local management hopes that this move could be reversed.
 
The BBC reported Wednesday that the firm announced that 250 jobs are at risk and are likely to go later this year in Londonderry [Derry] due to the loss of a major contract. Stream provides support services for technology companies at two locations in the city’s Waterside and Cityside areas. A contract loss in February also led to some job losses. The company currently employs about 500 people in Derry.
 
“These are tough times for the call cemter sector,” said the company's managing director, Jeff Jennings. "One of our contracts is moving. We’re not closing the place down, we're staying in Derry and we're going to go after new business. The commitment from the company is that they are going to stay in Derry, it's their U.K. location, [and] we're not going to pull out of the U.K. We've got clients visiting us in the next few weeks. Hopefully we can turn it around.”
 
Workers outside the offices said they had been given the option of moving with the contract to Newcastle-upon-Tyne, but few were likely to do so as it would entail a major relocation as the city is in northeastern England.
 
“We've just been told somewhere between September and January, if there is no new business, they are going to start letting people go," one employee told the BBC.
 
Pat Ramsey, who represents the Londonderry area in the Northern Ireland Assembly for the Social Democratic and Labour Party, said people needed to focus on how jobs could be protected. Stream has agreed to meet with a delegation from his party he reported and he is hoping to have discussions with the minister or senior officials at the department of enterprise, trade and investment to see what assistance they can give.
 
“There's going to be major job losses here, we could see up to 50 percent of the workforce going,” said Ramsey. “We know from the staff that there is still uncertainty, there is still nervousness and apprehension as to what the future holds. I am reassured to hear from the manager that he is intent in keeping the operation in the city and intent in securing other contracts.”
 
The Londonderry [Derry] contract ending and likely job loss follows the heels of Stream’s expansion in The Philippines that took place at the end of June, and the building of a new center in Cairo, Egypt. While the events appear to be unrelated on the surface Egypt will and The Philippines does provide English-language support along with the Northern Ireland locations. Egypt is becoming and is marketing itself as a low-cost high-quality nearshore base for U.K. and Continental Europe-serving contact centers.
 
Stream inaugurated at the end of June its second Philippines location, a 1,400-seat facility at the newly renovated SM North Edsa Annex, Quezon City. It will support the growing demand for the firm’s global business process outsourcing (BPO) services and serve as the company’s new regional headquarters.
 
Stream’s Quezon City solution center builds on the success of the company’s existing center in Makati City that has been expanding since its opening in 2008 and currently employs 600 support professionals. The newest facility will provide BPO solutions for new and existing global clients looking for high-quality, cost-effective support in an offshore location.
 
“With the opening of our Quezon City site, we continue to reinforce our ongoing commitment to providing second-to-none services to our client partners worldwide,” said Stream’s Chairman and CEO, R. Scott Murray. “The Quezon City facility is perfectly suited to support our existing and future client base, with its highly technical support professionals and extensive language support.”
 
The Stream Cairo site, announced in May, will have a capacity for more than 700 seats and will the firm to expand its multilingual support offerings to accommodate strong business growth.  The firm said Egypt’s exceptional technical workforce as well as strong telecommunications infrastructure and central service location make it a world-class destination to support its global clients.
 
“Cairo’s location enables Stream to broaden the multilingual customer care, technical support and revenue generation services options we offer to our clients,” said Murray. “It is a welcome addition to our established footprint in EMEA [Europe, Middle East, Africa]. With Egypt now established, Stream is one of the first BPO providers to have a truly global footprint, where English-language support is provided from a variety of onshore, nearshore, and offshore locations in the Americas, Europe and Asia.”  
 
 

Brendan B. Read is TMCnet’s Senior Contributing Editor. To read more of Brendan’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jessica Kostek

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