Fast fashion retailer ASOS to open £14m Belfast tech hub creating 184 jobs

ASOS said a new £14 million facility in Belfast will provide the retailer with "cutting-edge tech expertise to support future growth". 
ASOS said a new £14 million facility in Belfast will provide the retailer with "cutting-edge tech expertise to support future growth". 

THE online fashion group which bought the Topshop brand last year has announced plans to create 184 jobs in a new £14 million Belfast tech hub.

ASOS said it will establish the new facility in the city next year, with 52 jobs expected to be created by the end of 2022. That’s expected to rise to 184 by 2024, with an average salary in the range of £35,000.

The company said it will create a range of new jobs, including engineering and data science roles.

The move comes eight months after ASOS confirmed a £330m deal to buy the Topshop, Topman and Miss Selfridge brands from the collapsed Arcadia Group.

The acquisition, which also included activewear brand HIIT, absorbed the high street fashion names into the ASOS group, but effectively ended their physical presence in Northern Ireland.

The fast fashion retailer is expected to receive around £2.2m in government support for its move into Northern Ireland.

Invest NI, which has been in talks with ASOS since 2017, has offered a £1.2m incentive for the new software engineering roles.

The Department for the Economy will fund around £1m over three years for a series of assured skills academies, that will provide 130 recruits.

Run in conjunction with further education colleges, the assured skills programme has already been used for major recent recruitment drives in Northern Ireland by PwC, FinTrU, KPMG and Version 1.

The pre-employment scheme typically provides graduates with a crash course that ultimately results in a job interview.

Applications for the first ASOS assured skills academy, focused on data engineering, are now open.

The first tranche of recruits will be trained via the South Eastern Regional College from January 10 2022.

ASOS chief executive, Nick Beighton said: “As a rapidly growing business at the forefront of online retailing, we’re continually investing in our technology capabilities.

“Our new hub will provide us with cutting-edge tech expertise to support future growth.

“Belfast has a wealth of tech talent and we’re excited to be establishing a permanent base in such a vibrant city.”

Chief technology officer, Cliff Cohen, said the move to Belfast is part of the wider strategic plans for ASOS’ tech team, which will facilitate the online fashion retailer’s continued growth and expansion.

“ASOS is a fast-growing business and constantly looking to innovate through our technology.

“As we continue to scale our investment in technology, we are looking to hire talent across engineering roles into our new tech hub, and help foster talent in Northern Ireland by supporting its growing reputation as a centre for tech excellence.”

Economy Minister Gordon Lyons said the 184 new jobs will eventually contribute £6.5m a year in salaries.

“Today’s announcement by ASOS is a clear vote of confidence for Northern Ireland and our strong appeal as an investment location.

“The development of the new Belfast tech hub and the creation of over 180 jobs represents a significant investment in Northern Ireland by the company.

“In return, our talent base will provide ASOS with the high quality engineering resources it needs to deliver its international growth plans.”

Invest NI boss Kevin Holland added: “Securing this project is yet another tremendous endorsement of our compelling value proposition which includes our highly educated population, underpinned by some of the best educational facilities in the UK.

“The new roles will offer a range of opportunities for software engineers and analysts, development opportunities for those in the early stages of their tech careers and will provide exciting pathways for people to join Northern Ireland’s digital workforce.”