David Turner’s interview with the Scotsman

The Scotsman talks to Webhelp UK's CEO about the acquisiton and how he kept calm when the news leaked early.

 

 

 

 

After a year in the making, well-laid plans were in place to release news of one of the


Webhelp Group acquires Webhelp UK

Webhelp UK acquired by fast-growing international customer relationship management group Webhelp

New owners plan further investment in UK expansion

Webhelp UK, one of the UK’s leading contact centre companies which employs over 6,000 people across nine sites, has been acquired by Paris-headquartered Webhelp Group.

Webhelp Group operates 24 contact centres in continental Europe and North Africa, has annual revenues of 220m Euros and employs 10,500 people. It is backed by London and Paris based Charterhouse Capital Partners, which acquired a majority stake in the business in 2011.

Webhelp UK, which changes its name to Webhelp UK following the acquisition, gives the Webhelp Group a major presence in the UK for the first time and the capability to provide English-language customer management to its international client base.

The combined group will be one of the largest independently-owned customer experience organisations in the world, with revenues in excess of 350m Euros, 33 centres serving 25 clients and 16,500 employees globally.

Webhelp UK will retain its operational headquarters in Falkirk, Scotland, and continue to be run by its existing long-standing management team, led by Chief Executive David Turner, Chief Financial Officer Dean Hartley and Chief Operating Officer Andy Doig.

A new marketing office has been established in London, where Webhelp Group founder and co-chairman Frédéric Jousset will be based to support the company’s growth and development in the UK market.

It marks an end to the company’s ownership by the Indian-based HERO Group, which bought TSC in 2007 for £40m. The HERO Group has divested of its ownership to focus on its existing core manufacturing businesses.

Over the last five years, Webhelp UK has doubled its UK revenues to £82million, and grown staff numbers from 2,000 to 6,000. The current financial year has also seen revenues considerably increase. The company has customer contact centres at Dearne Valley, Derby, Dunoon, Falkirk, Glasgow, Greenock, Kilmarnock, Rothesay and Warrington.

David Turner, Webhelp UK Chief Executive, said: “This acquisition is excellent news for our people and customers. Webhelp is a dedicated customer relationship management organisation and is therefore totally supportive of our ambition to provide customers with the very best multichannel experience. Our management teams share an entrepreneurial drive to push the company forward and achieve new growth across all of our markets."

 


Derby site celebrates one year anniversary

Staff at HEROStsc's contact centre on Pride Park have this week celebrated a year of operations.

 

 

From The Derby Telegraph.

Staff at Webhelp UK's contact centre on Pride Park have this week celebrated its first anniversary. Business editor Robin Johnson charts the company's successful first 12 months in the city.

When Barclaycard announced it would not be retaining the call centre on Derby's Pride Park it had inherited when it bought internet bank Egg, a cloud of uncertainty hung over the building.

Cutting the cake to celebrate Webhelp UK's first anniversary in Derby, above, from left, are Rob Robson, Rob Cain and Sian Eastwood.

But salvation came in the form of the aptly named Webhelp UK. Just over a year ago, the centre started taking its very first calls on behalf of its customer , multi-media giant Sky, and staff have not looked back since.

Today, the building is home to 1,200 staff and, this week, the majority of those workers took the opportunity to celebrate the first anniversary of Webhelp UK in Derby.

To mark the milestone, staff got into the party spirit with a giant picnic, featuring around 1,000 pieces of birthday cake, more than 700 samosas and team quizzes and games.

The party atmosphere was in stark contrast to the mood at the building back in 2011.

Among the celebrating staff were people who remembered the dark days, when they worked for Egg and stared redundancy in the face.

Rob Robson, 39, of Breadsall, is a customer experience leader at Webhelp UK. He was one of the first to join the company in January last year after spending eight years working for Egg.

He said: "When I started working for Webhelp UK, we were in one corner of the building and there was about 200 of us. Today, the whole floor is buzzing. It's a great environment in which to work. We are not judged on targets, such as how many calls are answered within a certain time limit. We are judged on the quality of service we give. The customer always comes first. We also have a great team. We've taken on people from all walks of life, who reflect our customer base."

Over the past year, Webhelp UK Derby has handled four million calls. Proof of how operations have ramped up at Derby is shown by the fact that 350,000 of those were taken last month alone.

The first person to take a call at the Derby centre, on January 27, 2012, was Abigail Matemezano, a single mum from Heatherton.The 30-year-old was the first person to be recruited by Webhelp UK in Derby – bringing to an end her two-year search for work. She said: "I've had a fantastic year. Webhelp UK is a great company to work for. I work child-friendly hours and love my job. When more staff starting moving in I found myself getting a bit possessive about the building. It felt like they were moving into my house! But it's been a great opportunity to make new friends."

Before joining Webhelp UK, Rob Cain, 34, of Denby, was used to the outdoor life, as a sign-maker.
Rob, a deputy customer experience leader, said: "Joining Webhelp UK was a complete change of direction for me.
I was used to manual work and the thought of working in one place horrified me. But I'd always enjoyed meeting and talking to the customers – and when I joined Webhelp UK, I pretty much took to it like a duck to water.
I feel like I'd found my calling and I'd like to think that I will be working here for many years to come."

The arrival of Webhelp UK could not have come at a better time for Derby.

Two years ago, the city was at a low ebb. It had been left reeling from job losses at Bombardier, Celanese Acetate and Royal Mail.Then internet bank Egg sold its credit card business to Barclaycard.

The sting in the tale came when Barclaycard said it did not intend to retain Egg's Pride Park call centre and instead would service those accounts from existing offices in Northamptonshire.

Not only was Derby faced with the prospect of 650 more job losses, it was also presented with the challenge of finding a new tenant for the redundant call centre.

But, by December that year, a lifeline was thrown to those workers. The Derby Telegraph revealed that Webhelp UK was coming to town, bringing with it hundreds of jobs to service a contract with Sky.

The Falkirk-based based firm employs more than 6,000 people across nine contact centres. At Derby, it has 1,200 staff, which makes it the largest Webhelp UK site in terms of worker numbers.

Operations manager Craig Purdie said: "Webhelp UK has played a key role in helping to shape Derby's growing emergence as a major contact centre location. We've invested in this location because we know the workforce is talented, skilled and incredibly committed to delivering excellence in customer service."

Financially, Webhelp UK is in rude health, borne out in its recent annual results.
In December, the company announced a huge 117% increase in profits, from £4.1 million, to £8.9 million.

Chief executive David Turner said: "It has been a quite remarkable year. We were always confident that opening in Derby was the correct decision but the scale and pace of our growth here has been staggering."


Developing a modern Human Resource strategy

There is no question that we at Webhelp UK are on a mission to take HR out of its traditional comfort zone.

Kirsty Garrick Head of Human Resources Sky

 

Developing our people

My impression of Human Resources is that over the last ten years, we’ve undergone a massive step change for the better.  When I started out in my career, people were always key to each business I worked in, but the changes in our economic climate have made it even more important to get the right people in our business and to give them a compelling reason to stay with us.

HR is constantly evolving.  It used to be, and still can be, very transactional; if there was a problem – we fixed it – it was reactionary.  Today, even though job security is not what it once was; we know that our desired candidates are not necessarily out there waiting in line.  Therefore we have to take our people, develop them and bring them along to help them be brilliant!

I have always understood the businesses I’ve worked in, by that I mean what we do, how to do it and the financial consequences.  HR must no longer be viewed as simply a hygiene factor, what we do must add value.

We’re now dealing with a diverse variety of people.  In terms of a people agenda, in the past, as I pointed out, hygiene factors were at the forefront – so for instance are we paying correctly, are they on the right hours, are we competitive in terms of attracting the right people?  Now, while I think those factors are still relevant, HR’s role is more about retaining our people.  Having invested in the individuals we have brought in, the job then becomes all about how we keep them engaged with our business, feel valued and stay with us.

"What can the business do for me?"

Back in the day, people wanted security and they planned their future around their employment.  They had more of a “what can I bring to the business attitude.”  Fast forward to today’s world, and our people want to know “what can the business do for me?”

Now we try to tailor our employee value proposition to meet the needs of our people in order to keep them and at the same time, nurture and encourage them to fit the business model that we are in and the culture that surrounds that model.  When we are planning and developing business plans for the future, we have to take into consideration the skills of our people and what they require in return from us.

I will do everything in my power to make sure that our people continue to get the development and support they need to continue to do an amazing and worthwhile job

In today’s turbulent economic global downturn, knowledge above all, is power; it’s become our SMART standard.  Sadly, we can no longer look to manufacturing or basic service sectors in this country.  Instead we have to seek out industries that require our highly specialized knowledge, creativity and innovation to fuel growth.  This means that our best asset – our people, and the knowledge, skills and abilities they possess, become essential for our continued success.

Strategic Human Resource Management

Strategic Human Resource Management involves helping our people understand how to achieve our business goals.  It’s an area of HR that links human resource practices and strategies to supporting and sometimes driving broad-based business objectives.  Because of HR’s historically administrative role, there can often be barriers to becoming strategic and we are indeed fortunate within Webhelp UK that our executives understand and appreciate the value in this connection.  In short, strategic HR is not just about HR, but all about business.

HR professionals must learn the details of the business they are supporting.  This gives them a framework for employing specific HR practices and interventions to ensure that the desired business outcomes are achieved.  HR skills are now more than ever closely aligned to business knowledge.

The importance of strategic Human Resource Management will continue to grow and as I see it, only HR professionals with strong business knowledge will be able lead the way.