Jobs hope as Capita acquires Ventura for £65m

Vic Gysin
Vic Gysin
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CAPITA plans to create jobs in Yorkshire following its £65m acquisition of call centre firm Ventura, it was revealed yesterday.

Outsourcing specialist Capita, which administers the Criminal Records Bureau and the collection of the licence fee for the BBC, said it snapped up Leeds-based Ventura because it offered a “good strategic fit” with its own services.

Capita has 9,000 staff in Yorkshire, including 6,000 who came with the Ventura acquisition.

Speaking exclusively to the Yorkshire Post, Vic Gysin, Capita’s joint chief operating officer, said Capita had plans to “significantly grow” the Ventura business in Yorkshire.

Mr Gysin said Ventura had spare capacity in Leeds and the Dearne Valley in South Yorkshire.

He added: “There is unused capacity in the buildings which is a significant cost, so we want to use it efficiently.

“Although we can’t say how many jobs could be created, there are lots of good reasons to look to fill those spaces up.”

Mr Gysin added: “We bought it (Ventura) because we think it is already a good business and with our additional expertise we believe we can increase sales.

“Ventura has been very much focused on call centre operations, while Capita has been typically associated with outsourced back office work, but we also have a high end professional services practice.

“In terms of front office opportunities, we have competed with Ventura for contracts and have found them to be an expert sales and delivery organisation.

“Working with Ventura, we believe we can promote opportunities in up-selling and cross-selling. We have had an eye on Ventura because it was one of the stand-out call centre opportunities in the UK.”

Mr Gysin, who spent 12 years as a regular senior officer in the British Army, added: “We have got big operations in Leeds and the Dearne Valley, which gives a ready resource to provide additional roles.

“The fact there’s a big student population is useful for evening and weekend activity.

“There are lots of attractive reasons for recruiting in Yorkshire, not least are the availability of labour and the strong work ethic.”

Capita told investors that Ventura’s flexible service model complements its customer contact operations.

It also provides Capita with opportunities to offer wider customer management and back office outsourced services to blue chip clients.

Before the acquisition, Ventura was the third party customer services management arm of Next. Ventura is particularly strong in the private sector where its clients include a number of leading telecoms, utilities and retail companies, such as O2, Orange, British Gas and BMI.

Ventura was launched in 1968 as Club 24, the retail credit department of Hepworths the tailors. Club 24 went on to re-brand as Next in 1981, and then rebranded its contact centre arm as Ventura in 1995.

Ventura made a pro-forma operating profit for its financial year to January 31, 2011 of £8m on turnover of £156m.

Altogether, Ventura has around 8,000 employees, based in Yorkshire, Cardiff, Milton Keynes and Pune, India, who have all transferred to Capita.

Speaking earlier this month, Andy Kerr, deputy general secretary of trade union the CWU, said: “This is a significant consolidation of outsourced call centre functions and presents an opportunity to drive up standards across the industry.

“The outsourcing market can often be volatile, but the opportunities for redeployment in a bigger company like Capita should be better, hopefully meaning good news on job security.”

In May, Capita dismissed suggestions that its market was drying up due to spending cutbacks.

It reported rising demand from local and central Government.

The firm said at the time: “The market for outsourcing has become more active following a quiet 2009 and 2010.”

Ian Cherry, the managing director of Ventura, said of the acquisition: “This is a great way to take the business forward; this news will strengthen our service to clients and business prospects.

“We are very excited about the future and look forward to offering our clients even more innovative solutions in customer management outsourcing than ever before.”

The outsourcing trend

In recent years, Capita has been benefiting from a growing trend towards outsourcing in Britain as the Government looks to cut costs and companies seek to improve their profitability.

Capita’s presence in Sheffield dates back to 1994. It employs around 3,000 staff in Sheffield, making it one of the city’s largest employers.

It is managing more than 20 regeneration projects across Sheffield, including mixed use developments.

The company also has staff in Bradford, Huddersfield, Wetherby and York.

Earlier this year, Capita was selected by the DVLA for a five-year contract to manage vehicle tax and insurance evasion on road enforcement.