Amazon setting up a (temporary) base in Cork?

I note it was reported yesterday that Amazon are opening a multi-lingual callcentre in Cork, with the support of IDA Ireland. Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Micheál Martin helps himself to some of the credit, naturally.

Local business development consultant, Donagh Kiernan mentioned it in his blog:

This further copper fastens Ireland’s strength in securing the new economy multinationals.

Also with the recent announcement of Cork company DSI’s partnership with Amazon, Ireland is really showing it’s world class capabilities in the new economy in attracting such commitments.

Congratulations to the IDA, Minister Michael Martin and his team..

Bernie Goldbach has written a bit about this as well and unfortunately I suspect his views are a lot closer to the truth of the matter – specifically Bernie says:

Amazon Cork doesn’t sound as techie as Amazon Dublin, where a Systems and Networks and Operating Centre runs in the Digital Hub in Dublin. Amazon Cork sounds like a call centre and those things are the 21st century’s equivalent of a clothing factory…. I would be curious to see what Amazon thinks is the attraction of Ireland. I still think it’s the friendly tax regime. It’s certainly not a robust teleworking infrastructure, nor is it high-speed road access between Cork and Dublin nor is it low cost of operations.

Bernie has hit the nail on the head here – Amazon have come to Cork despite the poor infrastructure and because of the tax breaks. They located their call centre in Cork – something they can pick up and drop in another location at a moments notice. Call centre jobs are low paying, high churn jobs. Minister Martin, you would be better advised looking for high value jobs for Cork – ones with an R&D component, for example. The Amazon call centre will last here 5 years tops and will you be around to take the credit when they move on?

23 thoughts on “Amazon setting up a (temporary) base in Cork?”

  1. Despite the main body of the workforce being high-churn call centre, this attracts big names and at this scale they do require support services.

    Amazon presence in Cork gives the opportunity to do more

  2. Despite the main body of the workforce being high-churn call centre, this attracts big names and at this scale they do require support services.

    Sure Donagh – but what happens to the support service companies when Amazon moves on to the next tax haven?

    does the newsworthy opinion always need to be cynical?

    I think I’m simply being realistic Donagh.

  3. I leave cynicism at the doorway when discussing how county enterprise boards can help move their region up the food chain. Everyone knows how to spell infrastructure. Multinationals know how to spell it in five different languages if they don’t find it in Ireland.

  4. so are we better take the best of what we have or tell them to go away because we’re not getting their whole hearted commitment.

    I understand business decisions all to well and learned long ago not to take them personally and not to be disgruntled by safe choices.

    It’s up to us now to seek more from these organisations when they do have a presence in our country. Step by Step..

  5. What sort of rubbish is this, how exactly does ‘poor’ infrastructure affect Amazon Cork? Nowhere in the bloody country has better infrastructure than the Southside of Cork when Amazon is. Also it’s about 100m from the airport. If anything they couldn’t have a better location. I hate this negativity about our infrastructure when it’s just not true.

  6. Dave – you can’t be serious – “nowhere in the country has better infrastucture than the Southside of Cork”?

    Where is the nearest motorway to Cork airport again? Oh yeah, Portlaoise – 2 hours north of Cork airport.

    Cork is Ireland’s second city and the airport has no transatlantic flights.

    Have you tried getting the train from the airport into the city – oh yeah, there is no train connection to the airport. The bus connection from the airport is sporadic and doesn’t connect with the trains in Kent station.

    I could go on but honestly if you believe Cork has a decent infrastructure, you need to get out more.

  7. Tom, do you really think that you need the road to be called a motorway for it to be a ‘good’ road. The road to East Cork would be called a Motorway in any other country in the world. Honestly Tom tell me where else in Ireland has as good infrastructure as the Southside of Cork. The answer is nowhere. How exactly does having blue signs on the road instead of Green one’s automatically make it better Tom?

    On the next issue a train connection doesn’t make a jot of difference, plenty of airports in cities that are highly regarded don’t. And besides how exactly does that affect Amazon, aren’t they going to be based at the airport. You can just get a Taxi to the city centre if that’s what you really need to do, and the bus to the city centre isn’t that bad.

    Tom don’t try and belittle me by telling me to ‘get out more’ I’ve been to enough cities to know that for a city of 250,000 Cork has fantastic infrastructure and if you were locating in Ireland there is nowhere better.

    I’ve lived in Limerick, Cork and Galway so I know that Cork beats the other two hands down on traffic and congestion. I haven’t lived in Dublin but as my father who works there two days a week says, it takes him less time to get from the house in Cork to the airport and on to Dublin than it does to get from Dublin airport into the office in Dublin.

    BTW Cork has the capacity for transatlantic flights since last October it’s just nobody is offering them.

  8. Honestly Tom tell me where else in Ireland has as good infrastructure as the Southside of Cork.

    Anywhere within a 60 square mile radius of Dublin and most of Northern Ireland (Northern Ireland recently announced 100% broadband rollout).

    aren’t they going to be based at the airport.

    Yes but physical traffic to Amazon will also be coming from within Ireland (i.e. people who are not flying) – a train service and a decent bus service would be of enormous benefit to them.

    I’ve lived in Limerick, Cork and Galway so I know that Cork beats the other two hands down on traffic and congestion

    Yes and I have lived in the UK, US and am a regular visitor to Spain – we have an appalling infrastructure – and it is not just roads, think telecoms, think healthcare, think education. We are suffering the consequences of years of underinvestment in the region.

    Cork has the capacity for transatlantic flights since last October it’s just nobody is offering them

    Cork has only a limited capacity for transatlantic flights (only some planes capable of transatlantic flight can land at Cork – there are runway length issues as well as a below par ILS which means regular flight diversions to Kerry, Shannon and Dublin).

  9. Anywhere within a 60 square mile radius of Dublin and most of Northern Ireland (Northern Ireland recently announced 100% broadband rollout).

    Indeed Northern Ireland does have fantastic infrastructure but that’s a different country with far larger investment due to a far larger tax take. I’d argue Dublin having better infrastructure over Cork because it’s got a far larger population so per capita Cork beats it hands down. The company I work for has offices in Cork and Dublin and the people in the office who are working here and are based in the Dublin office say that Cork has much better roads.

    Yes but physical traffic to Amazon will also be coming from within Ireland (i.e. people who are not flying) – a train service and a decent bus service would be of enormous benefit to them.

    I’ve worked up in Cork Airport Business Park and never had an issue the people I worked with didn’t either.

    think telecoms, think healthcare, think education. We are suffering the consequences of years of underinvestment in the region.

    What consequences Tom? Last time I checked Ireland was outperforming all the economies you mentioned. And in fairness saying we have poor education is the biggest joke I’ve ever heard. We have free 3rd level education with a 57% participation level at 3rd level, that’s bloody fantastic.

    Seriously Tom, I’ve only ever been in one country that beat Ireland overall and that was Sweden, and I’d accept their tax rates for their infrastructure but there’s a lot of downsides to that too.

  10. Dave – I think you need to check again 😉

    Ireland has the lowest spending in the EU on healthcare (7.4% of gdp) and the lowest spend on education (4.14 % of gdp) according to the oecd.

    Ireland also has one of the lowest rates of broadband penetration in the OECD (ranked 24 out of 30).

  11. Indeed all those facts are correct, we’ll have to agree to disagree on the bigger issues. I don’t think the fact we spend x amount on education makes a jot of difference, spending money doesn’t make it good or bad. The fact is that we do have free education all the way and the standard is well up there with any country in the world.

  12. Dave,

    because my wife works for the department of education, I feel fairly qualified to say our education system could stand a lot of improvement!

  13. Ah but every system in the whole world could do with improvement, as a recent product of the Irish education system I think it’s bloody amazing, and the fact that I and my friends had no issue getting jobs here or in the UK or in the US. They had to compete with people from other education systems and did this without a problem.

    Also Tom I honestly believe that the participation level in school is fantastic and the 3rd level attendance is amazing. In yesterdays Sunday Times we had one of the lower levels of unskilled workers in the EU far lower than our closest neighbours – the U.K.

  14. Amazon can look beyond steel and tarmac when they think infrastructure. There is world class talent and capabilities in this region and it is the job of the management team in each multinationational subsidiary to build on the opportunity presented to it.

  15. John,

    thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    You are not seriously trying to tell me that the management in the Amazon call centre are going to try to turn the call centre into an R&D centre or something similar, are you?

  16. You are not seriously trying to tell me that the management in the Amazon call centre are going to try to turn the call centre into an R&D centre or something similar, are you?

    Yes, why not. Whats stopping them. A mandate? A vision? All US companies work on the meritocrachy principle and it is down to the employees to make something of the opportunity, particularly management. You have two types of irish managers in multinational subsidiaries – boyscout and subversive. Boyscout managers focus strictly on the single deliverable whereas subversive managers seek to become a strategic pivot for the multinational and drive to expand the charter of the operation.

    Do you think the HP European Software Centre started off as the European Software Centre? It didn’t, it started off life copying software onto mag tape and putting it in the back of a lorry. How did the transformation take place? Look to the management and technical team (still) there and there is your answer.

    Anyone interested in this should have a read of Ed Delaney’s publication Strategic Leadership of Multi-National Subsidiaries: From Superior Performance to a Vital Part of Corporate Value Chain, 1998.

  17. Hmmm,

    I’d like to think you are right John but I’m more inclined to think the managers will be concerned with running a successful call centre rather than going outsied their expertise and trying to turn their call centre into a data centre or similar.

    I note the Reg has an article on this move too – it seems the people of Slough (where the call centre is moving from) are none too happy about the move and blame the tax incentives as well.

  18. Its way more than a ‘call centre’. The cork operation will be assisting online merchants and helping them to become successful Internet ecommerce businesses. Name one other place in Ireland that does anything like that. None. Ands thats real knowledge.

    Re: the management. My point remains. And you should get your hands on the Ed Delaney document. Not all successful multi-nat operations in this country are running on their existing business charter (I’m one of them).

    Saw the register article .. well it happens. Tax is part of the picture but only part of it. US MNCs like doing business here for a lot of the reasons I’ve outlined above.

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