Belfast-based IT firm Version 1 outlines ambitious plans to create 400 jobs and expand into Derry

Pupils from Hazelwood College on a recent visit to Version 1 in Belfast on International Women's Day.
Gareth McKeown

A BELFAST-based IT services firm has outlined ambitious plans to create 400 new jobs in the city and potentially expand into Derry.

Dublin-headquartered Version 1, which set up in Belfast in 2012, has just welcomed its 100th staff member to its Cromac Place office, and head of operations for Northern Ireland Lorna McAdoo believes the sky is the limit for the company's potential.

"We're passed the 100 mark in Belfast and we're recruiting all the time, so 120 staff by June is more than achievable," Ms McAdoo explained.

"While my personal goal was always for 150 staff in Belfast, there is talk this will probably go to the guts of 500 people in Belfast over the next five years."

It is a far cry from the company's humble beginnings in Belfast, with the initial intention in 2012 to grow staff numbers in the city to 26.

Now, such has been the recent exponential growth the "jewel in the crown" Belfast office is increasing revenues by 30 per cent annually and is expected to surpass £10m turnover for the first time in 2019.

In the last year alone the Belfast office has taken on a third (33) of its current workforce, driven by a client base of over 20 local and international customers, including the likes of Almac, Firmus Energy and Henderson Group.

"The fact we've got to 100 (staff) is unimaginable," Ms McAdoo said.

"To reach the 100 mark in Belfast I think is a great reflection of the support and commitment not just here locally, but from our senior management and the board in Version 1.They are fully committed to growing in Belfast."

Version 1 currently occupies the third floor of both 10 and 12 Cromac Place in the Gasworks, which has a total capacity for around 160 staff.

Looking ahead the head of operations recognises there will soon be a pressing need for additional space in the city.

"We potentially could hit that 160 staff mark this year," she said

"Will I be out looking for additional office space towards the end of this year? More than likely. Ideally we would like to stay in Cromac Place, but we shall see."

Ms McAdoo has also refused to rule out further expansion in the north, citing Derry as a potential location for investment.

"It's not something that I have discussed internally, but I would have a view that we should be looking at Derry as well and up towards the north west."

The projected business enlargement in Northern Ireland is part of overall strategic growth at the IT services company, which employs 1,300 people across 10 offices in the UK, Ireland and India.

At present the firm is projecting staff numbers to comfortably surpass 5,000 in the next five years, with Dublin at the core of the expansion.

"There is no limit and that is the nice thing about Version 1," Ms McAddo continued.

"We are ambitious as a company, we're ambitious at management level right down to the people on the ground. We've all got that drive to make this business work.

"Our vision is to be a world leader in customer success by 2021."

Founded in 1996, Version 1 has progressed through organic growth and strategic acquisition to become a trusted technology partner to major domestic and international customers across all industry sectors.

In 2017 the company secured a €90 million investment from London–based investment firm Volpi Capital to accelerate its international growth plans.

Version 1 has an overall client base of around 200 and the market leader in IT services is expected to turnover €135m (£115m) this year.

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