Scotland’s largest call centre operator has been snapped up by French rival Webhelp in a €90 million (£77m) deal as it makes its first move into the UK market.
Falkirk-based HEROtsc, which employs some 3,000 people north of the Border, was created in 2007 when Hero paid £40m for Telecom Service Centres, but the Indian group has decided to sell up to concentrate on its core business of building bicycles and motorbikes.
Chairman Sunil Kant Munjal said: “I am very proud of what HEROtsc has achieved during its time with the Hero Group. Sales and margins improved significantly during this period and the number of employees also trebled despite economic slowdown.
“We wish the management team, the people at HEROtsc and Webhelp well in their plans for further growth.”
Over the past five years, revenues at the company have doubled to £82m and its UK-wide headcount has grown from 2,000 to 6,000.
The firm, which counts satellite broadcaster Sky and mobile phone giant Vodafone among its customers, has six call centres in Scotland – in Dunoon, Falkirk, Glasgow, Greenock, Kilmarnock and Rothesay. It operates a further three sites in England, where it employs 3,000.
Under its new ownership, the company will be rebranded Webhelp TSC but will retain its headquarters in Falkirk and continue to be run by its existing management team, led by chief executive David Turner, chief operating officer Andy Doig and chief financial officer Dean Hartley.
Turner, who will sit on the Webhelp board, said: “This acquisition is excellent news for our people and customers.
“Under our new ownership, we will continue to provide the very best career opportunities and support to our people as we continue to expand our operations geographically and into new service areas.”
Paris-based Webhelp, founded in 2000 by co-chairmen Olivier Duha and Frédéric Jousset, operates 24 call centres across Algeria, Belgium, France, Morocco and Romania. It employs some 10,500 people and generates annual revenues of €220m.
Jousset will be based in London, where the company has set up a marketing office to support its growth plans.
He said: “HEROtsc is an excellent business with a strong track record of delivering first-class customer experience on behalf of UK and international clients.
“We are very excited about joining forces with the company, its management team and employees, to expand Webhelp’s global footprint and support the company in the UK market with the resources available from our group organisation and investors.”
Webhelp is majority owned by private equity firm Charterhouse Capital Partners, which took control in a €340m deal in 2011. Charterhouse also has a small stake in Wood Mackenzie, having sold a 63 per cent stake in the Edinburgh-based energy, mining and metals research group to rival Hellman & Friedman in a £1.1 billion deal last summer.
First Minister Alex Salmond said: “I know that the skill and commitment of the staff from Falkirk to Rothesay has been instrumental in the success until now and I look forward to seeing what new heights can be achieved by Webhelp TSC.”