New IT office in Lithuania to supplement Callcredit’s growth

CREDIT referencing and consumer data firm Callcredit Information Group said a new IT office in Lithuania will help support its soaring growth.

The Leeds-based group yesterday formally opened an office in Kaunas, Lithuania, where it hopes to employ 200 staff by 2013.

Chief operating officer Adrian Mitri said Callcredit’s 25 per cent annual growth rate means it needs more IT support.

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“We needed to be able to continue to support that both through the UK market and with additional capacity,” said Mr Mitri. “Our growth enables us to continue to expand which creates more roles in the UK and Leeds.”

Callcredit has taken about 2,000 square metres of space on the fourth floor of an office in the Zalgiris Arena in Kaunas, the country’s second-largest city.

The Mayor of Kaunas, the British ambassador to Vilnius, the British Chamber of Commerce and Callcredit staff attended the opening ceremony.

Callcredit was sold by Skipton Building Society in 2009 to private equity firm Vitruvian Partners and management and has since recorded soaring growth.

Profits from operations rose by 11.2 per cent to £12.4m during 2011 and revenues grew by 50 per cent to £91.6m.

It competes with firms including Experian and Equifax, offering services including ID verification and market analysis.

Mr Mitri said while wages are lower in Lithuania, its decision to expand there was mainly spurred by a “supply issue”.

“The UK market is, from an IT perspective, very buoyant,” said Mr Mitri. “In the Leeds market we’re trying to recruit dot.net managers and that continues to be a slow process. We’ve got a business growing very quickly and we need to be able to support our customers.

“We are actively recruiting in the UK for IT capability. We are still getting people in the business, but it’s slow and hard work.”

The company employs about 1,000 staff, including about 550 in Leeds, up from a total of about 400 in 2007.

The Kaunas office now employs about 45 staff, working on software development, new products and services and IT support. Mr Mitri said Callcredit has no plans to base all its IT support in Lithuania.

“Most of our IT development sits in Leeds and Lithuania is really becoming our second footprint for delivery of service. A dual footprint is very much our strategy.

“Leeds is our flagship site and we have continued room for expansion there.”

Other than a small office in Japan, the site is Callcredit’s first major expansion abroad.

“We looked at a number of different countries and looked at the depth of capability,” said Mr Mitri.

“The (Lithuanian) government has invested heavily in infrastructure. Having spent time on the ground here it was a bit of a no-brainer.”

Mr Mitri said Callcredit has weighed up data security concerns in its decision to open in Lithuania. “At the end of the day, data is half of what we do and security is very important. All the European Union data protection regulations are applicable. The regulatory environment is fine.

“We do not host any data in Lithuania – everything remains resident in the UK.

“From a data security perspective we’ve spent a lot of time making sure that we are confident.”

The Zalgiris Arena, which houses Callcredit’s new IT operation, is home to a 15,700-seat basketball arena and concert hall.

Mr Mitri admitted he was initially sceptical when it was suggested as a new location for the firm.

“But I came over and had a look. The building is a first-class arena and a modern office space.”