UK firm to open call centres in SA

22 October 2013

UK-based call centre operator Webhelp UK is to open two call centres in South Africa and plans to recruit 1 000 people in the country over the next 12 months, the company announced on Monday.

The company said that it would open a 7 500 square metre state-of-the art facility in Cape Town and a 4 500 square metre site in Johannesburg.

“While still confident of continuing UK growth, this South African venture will give the company the ability to service international contracts, operating a blended onshore, offshore and near shore model,” the company said in a statement.

The Paris-headquartered Webhelp Group, one of Europe’s largest customer experience providers, took over the former HEROtsc business earlier this year. The re-branded Webhelp UK has already won new contracts and boosted staff numbers at many of its UK sites. It employs 6 000 people across 10 sites and works for brands such as Sky and Vodafone, and reported revenue growth of 36 percent in the 12 months to 31 March 2013 to £111-million.

“This represents a significant milestone in the continued development of our business, by giving us the ability to support our customers across multiple geographies, and is complementary to our existing English language, eastern European, nearshore locations,” Webhelp UK CEO David Turner said.

“We have seen a trend over the last 12-18 months of organisations repatriating work from other offshore locations such as India and the Philippines as a result of poor customer experience,” Turner added.

“All of our research tells us that South Africa can deliver an equivalent customer experience to the UK for certain processes. We firmly believe that our UK, Romanian and South Africa capability gives us the best possible blend of off, near and onshore capabilities.”

Peter Ryan of London-based consultancy Ovum commented: “The similarity of the professional qualifications and the compatibility of the data protection laws make South Africa an excellent partner location for Webhelp UK. The country is particularly attractive because, alongside a stable regulatory environment, there is a talented workforce with high standards of customer experience knowledge.”

Craig Gibson, who has done work for a range of blue-chip financial institutions in South Africa, will join the local operation, which will be known as Webhelp South Africa, as CEO.

“The arrival of the Webhelp Group in South Africa is another great development for the BPO [business process outsourcing] industry in the country,” Gibson said. “In recent years we have seen some big brands choose South Africa, and the country is establishing itself as a BPO destination of choice.

“South Africa successfully delivers BPO services to the domestic markets of Australia and the UK,” Gibson added. “The language and culture is closely matched, enabling us to offer a far higher standard of customer service than some traditional BPO markets such as India and the Philippines.”

SAinfo reporter