Chip designer Cirrus poised to expand after Wolfson coup

Audio processors and converters made by Texas-headquartered Cirrus Logic are used in smartphones, tablets and hi-fi equipment
Audio processors and converters made by Texas-headquartered Cirrus Logic are used in smartphones, tablets and hi-fi equipment
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CIRRUS Logic, the US chip des­igner that acquired Wolfson Microelectronics, is targeting further growth in the UK after seeing its headcount rise steadily since the 2014 deal to buy its Edinburgh-based peer.

The Texas-headquartered group, whose audio processors and converters feature in smartphones, tablets, hi-fi equipment and televisions, employs about 370 full-time designers, engineers and support staff across its operations in the Scottish capital and at a smaller base in Newbury, to the west of London.

That total has risen by more than 40 since the completion of the Wolfson takeover, with the staff count north of the Border now standing at 272.

Earlier this month, the group announced plans to relocate its Edinburgh operations in one of the city’s biggest office pre-lettings for some time. Cirrus has agreed a deal to take four floors at the Quartermile 4 building, spanning more than 70,000 square feet. It will move from its existing 55,000sq ft home in the city’s Murrayfield area when the new offices, which are currently under construction, are complete.

Visiting Scotland last week to inspect the work in progress, Cirrus president and chief executive Jason Rhode admitted that it had taken some time for the benefits of the tie-up to feed through.

He told Scotland on Sunday: “People were initially a bit sceptical but we have now hired a number of people back. I think it took about a year before the word of mouth got around.

“We got back some people who were pretty amazing in their day and they are pretty impressive now. We are certainly growing here and employ more people than at the time of the acquisition.”

He added: “We also have a base in Newbury and are opening an office in London, which will be a great recruiting tool.”

Rhode, who joined the group 21 years ago and has been in the top post since 2007, said Wolfson, which was acquired for £291 million, had been facing “some pretty severe financial troubles”, but a merger between Cirrus and its “closest competitor” made sense.

“There’s a point beyond which scale doesn’t really help that much, but being below where you could be a profitable company just creates a hole to dig yourself out of,” he said. “Cirrus was able to solve a lot of the problems that Wolfson was facing. It has been a successful investment.”

Rhode said the Nasdaq-listed group, which supplies blue-chips including Sony, Samsung and Ford, would be targeting the “incredible opportunities” for audio and voice-based technologies.