Apple boost for city

APPLE COMPUTERS is bringing 400 more jobs to Cork city centre, swelling its workforce at Half Moon Street to as much as 800.

The company, which now employs around 3,000 people in Cork and which is about to embark on an expansion of its Hollyhill facility to cater for 500 new jobs, has started fitting out extra office space in the Half Moon Street building, off Academy Street and Lavitt’s Quay.

Along with Boots, there could be as many as 1,000 jobs in this building by year’s end, and, in tandem with the Opera Lane retail development, it will account for 1,500 city centre jobs.

Apple hasn’t commented officially on the move and its extra investment in the city centre, and it’s not yet confirmed if the jobs locating there are additional to the 500 promised for Hollyhill, or if some staff will be relocated from there. But its impact on the city core will be significant — the equivalent of the workforce of several factories.

"It’s absolutely fantastic news for the city centre, it’s real regeneration. It means hundreds more people eating, living and sleeping in the city centre every day of the week," said Chairperson of the Cork Business Association Tom Durcan.

He said of the 350 to 400 employees at Half Moon Street who’ve taken up work there over the past year: "They are good, well-paid jobs and they tell me only 28 of them have cars, so the rest all live and work in the city centre. It shows how metropolitan Cork has become in the last few years.

"All you can do is say congratulations to Owen O’Callaghan for developing at Half Moon Street and Opera Lane, as well as to City Council for its improvement works on the streets. The city now has hundreds of new jobs, top High Street brands in the very heart of the city, as well as attractions like the English Market; it’s really very positive," Mr Durcan added.

News of Apple’s first lease on Half Moon Street for the first tranche of 350 jobs was exclusively carried in these pages in June 2011: now, a year later, it is to more than double its presence in Half Moon Street, taking control of as much as 90,000 sq ft of offices.

Developers O’Callaghan Properties and letting agents Savills had been seeking rents of €20 to €25 psf for the remaining office floors at Half Moon Street after Cork City Council granted permission for a change of use from retail to offices.

Now, that application has paid a huge jobs dividend, with knock-on benefits for shops, restaurants and other businesses in the city centre.

Neither O’Callaghan Properties nor Savills would comment on the second Apple lease and current, visible fit-out of the office on the first and second floor of the dramatic curved glass building. Similarly, there was no official confirmation following calls for comment to Apple’s Cork HQ at Hollyhill as well as to London and to European and Middle Eastern management.

In April, Apple finally confirmed its significant expansion at its European HQ at Hollyhill, where planning has been secured for new buildings to cater for 500 more staff by the end of 2013, bringing its employment in Cork to as much as 3,300.

The company has had a presence in Cork since 1981, and along with EMC/VMWare, is among the region’s largest employers.