Tue | Sep 19, 2017

New BPO companies coming

Published:Friday | February 12, 2016 | 2:00 AMTameka Gordon

The call centre market continues to expand with three business process outsourcing (BPO) companies about to set up shop in Jamaica.

The three are scouting for real estate between Kingston and Montego Bay. Another five prospective investors are said to be assessing the market but are yet to make a final determination.

Last fiscal year, the sector had six new entrants as reported by Jampro in its 2014-15 annual report: Quality Works Consulting Group, PCR Nearshore, Advanced Call Centre Technologies, MJ Contact Solutions, DG Call Sales Solutions Limited and Tritel Services Jamaica.

Tritel's principal, Wayne Chai Chong, declined to comment on the services he plans to offer, saying the company was doing preparatory work ahead of its official launch.

Jampro reported that the six entrants represented 3,237 jobs - 2,047 permanent and 1,190 temporary posts. Overall, the BPO sector represents around 17,000 jobs provided by 40 companies in operation.

Overall investments in the sector for 2014-15 amounted to $654 million, Jampro said.

Of the five firms currently scouting the market, some have been conducting due diligence on Jamaica as a viable nearshore location since 2013, industry sources say.

By Jampro's assessment, some 34 BPO firms have set up businesses in Jamaica in the last 10 years, including Xerox, Teleperformance, Sutherland Global Services and Hinduja Global, while Microsoft, Amazon and Humana have outsourced their contracts to local companies. Last year, Xerox announced its call centre expansion to Kingston.

Meantime, the activity in the BPO market has had positive spin-offs for commercial real estate, says realtor Andrew Issa of Coldwell Bankers Jamaica Realty.

A few local companies have also taken on ventures, aimed at tapping into the tide of investments and windfalls in the sector, among them GK Investments Limited.

The GraceKennedy subsidiary last year inked a deal with the Postal Corporation of Jamaica to transform a leased section on the Central Sorting Office in Kingston into rental space aimed at BPO companies. And the Khemlani Group has also put its 12,000-square-foot New Kingston warehouse on the market for rental to call centres.

Jampro declined to name the three pending entrants and the five that are scouting the market.

Jamaica's BPO sector has gone through several iterations over the years - with name identifications that have spanned IT, call centres, ICT and now BPO - alongside promises of tens of thousands of jobs that have largely fallen far of the target. Sector interests maintain, however, that the jobs are achievable with the right incentives for investors.

tameka.gordon@gleanerjm.com