Recruitment resumes at Kainos as Belfast IT firm reassesses the scale of new HQ

Signage removed at the Movie House in April. The former Dublin Road cinema is earmarked for demolition to make way for Kainos' new headquarters. Picture: Mal McCann
Ryan McAleer

RECRUITMENT has resumed at IT services firm Kainos, its chief executive has said.

In a trading update last month, the Belfast-based company announced a series of cost cutting moves, including plans to furlough staff, pause recruitment and put plans for the construction of a major new headquarters in the city on ice.

But speaking to The Irish News on Tuesday, Brendan Mooney said 46 people had joined the company during the Covid-19 lockdown period.

He also confirmed that another 60 to 70 graduates will join the company in the coming months.

Kainos’ total workforce now stands at 1,715, an increase of 245 over the year. Around 800 people are now based in Belfast.

The latest set of accounts for the London stock exchange listed digital services company revealed a strong financial year. Pre-tax profits increased by nine per cent to £25.5m in the 12 months ending March 2020, on the back of an 18 per cent surge in turnover to £178.8m.

Mr Mooney said that 100 members of staff were furloughed at the start of April, with around a dozen since returning to work.

He also confirmed that most staff won’t return to the office place until 2021.

“Our guidance is - expect to work from home at least until September and most people will be working from home until next year.”

Kainos was one of the north’s first major employers to respond to the coronavirus, sending all its staff home on March 5.

Mr Mooney described the move to remote working as “seamless”.

The chief executive also said that the company intends to proceed with its plans to consolidate its nine buildings in Belfast into a new headquarters on the site of the former Movie House Cinema on the Dublin Road.

But he said the Covid-19 pandemic has prompted a reassessment of the type and scale of building the company will eventually construct.

“Our plan is to demolish the [Movie House] building on schedule and go through planning permission,” he said.

“Then as the next few months progress, we’ll get a better view of our needs for the office in terms of introducing more space, because of social distancing or there could be less space, because we have less people looking to go into the office.”

The Richland Group previously proposed a £65m development on the Bankmore Square site. 

Kainos bought the site in a £7m deal in February 2019, but has yet to progress to a full planning application. Its original schedule involved clearing the former cinema by January 2021.

While he said the recent move to remote working by governments and the private sector had created more demand for Kainos’ services, Mr Mooney predicted a difficult period ahead for the broader economy.

He said the government interventions had been “bold and brave”, but added: “I still think there is an economic challenge coming.

“I think that until we get a credible vaccine or a credible treatment protocol, people will be cautious. And that means significant sectors of our economy will continue to find it difficult.”

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