Up to 20 jobs will be created at the shared services group’s subsidiary in Bedfordshire, near Luton. Much of the work, however, will be done by West Cork SouthWestern in Clonakilty, which is owned by Ion Equity.
The staff in Clonakilty will develop an electronic movement reporting system, and the accompanying livestock database, for the UK’s Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). The database, which will replace the current paper-based system, should be fully operational by Apr 2014.
SouthWestern chief executive, Jim Costello, said the company plans to build its presence in a number of areas in the UK, and this contract win was an important step to delivering on that ambition.
Mr Costello said: “Clearly we have a lot of experience in this area and we are looking forward to working with Defra. The outsourcing sector in the UK is worth €241bn a year and employs over three million people. So there are huge opportunities in the UK for Irish firms like SouthWestern and we are looking forward to winning more of that business.”
SouthWestern has a proven track record in outsourcing in Ireland, having implemented and delivered livestock databases and traceability systems based on individual passports for the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
A spokesman for Defra said SouthWestern had put forward the most effective and affordable database. “The new sheep database will help us keep a tight control over the spread of animal disease in England. This new system will be simpler and will save farmers and taxpayers over £7m (€8.2m) over the next 10 years,” he said.
The announcement has been welcomed by the National Farmers’ Union and the National Sheep Association in the UK.
While this contract was initially awarded to SouthWestern in Nov 2012, it had to be retendered following a complaint by one of the competing companies. It was again awarded to SouthWestern upon completion of that retendering process.