Softcat this morning announced on Twitter that it has received the keys for an office near Dublin, marking its first expansion overseas.
We caught up with managing director Colin Brown (pictured) to find out more about Softcat's plans for the Emerald Isle, as well as what the launch says about the LSE-listed firm's international ambitions.
Can you tell us more about your plans for Ireland?
[Former CEO] Martin [Hellawell] talked about this previously as being one of initiatives we are working on, and we are probably a little bit ahead of the original schedule.
We've found a location, which we've been working on in the last few weeks in terms of legal. We've got to do a bit of a refit and get it ready for our team, which will take a few months. So we'd expect to be up and running soon into our new financial year, which starts on 1 August.
We'll probably have about a dozen people there when we start. That will be roughly half a dozen existing Softcat people and half a dozen new people. We've already signed up three new people and we've got another assessment centre this week to try and recruit a few more locals. That's as much as we want. We don't want to flood the market. It's the same as when we open any office, whether Bristol or Leeds or wherever - that would be roughly the number we'd start with and then build it up gradually from there. We don't have any set objectives to have 20 or 30 by this date and we'll react based on how they market responds.
Is there any more significance to this move, over and above previous office openings?
There is an element of having a foot in the Eurozone post Brexit. None of us really knows what's going to happen post Brexit.
But it's not the main driver. It fits the same category as why we'd open any other office in mainland UK. The three main criteria have generally been customer proximity, access to new talent and creating new opportunities for existing Softcat people to get promoted, and have the experience of opening and driving a new office. And the fourth one we'd add in this case is the Brexit element. Another reason associated to that is that it's good best practice for us in terms of opening a Softcat office overseas. Okay, it happens to be in an English-speaking country, but it still gives us that good challenge of working somewhere with foreign currency and different employment and tax laws tax law etc, so it's a good learning curve for us as well.
You say that new office openings are partly about giving opportunities to existing staff. Who will be leading the Irish office?
It will be led by Charlie Harman, a long-time Softcat employee who worked in the Marlow office for ten years and who has been in the Glasgow office for the last couple of years. He is deputy sales manager in Glasgow.
Are you planning to open any more offices?
There are none in the pipeline at the minute, but we've got a few under consideration. South coast was the most recent one at the end of last year. As well as the brand-new office in Ireland, we are looking for new locations in Leeds and London. We've got enough to keep us busy on the location front at the minute, and then we'll think about other ones beyond that.
What's your current headcount?
It's about 1,200
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