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FEATURE PADDY’S DAY


In the month that Ireland took home the Six Nations and celebrated St. Patrick’s Day, Tomorrow’s FM sat down with Mitie’s Padraig Byrne to find out how the company is operating in a delicate economy.


Cast your mind back to June 2010. The national papers were awash with disillusionment as the UK entered the honeymoon period of the first coalition government since the Second World War, and drastic public spending cuts were imminent. While that revision of spending has played out well for the outsourced services sector, it also gave private entities the opportunity to diversify into other economies. The birth of Mitie’s Irish business is one such example. Created through the purchase of Irish soft service contracts from Dalkia, and the TUPE of 48 staff, the new Mitie Ireland has grown since then to a turnover of £54million and is closing in on 2,000 employees.


But, with the Irish market shrinking again in the final quarter of 2013, survival is often the key concern ahead of growth for most businesses. Padraig Byrne has been with Mitie Ireland since its inception and has overseen the success of the ‘big brother’ business model that has allowed the company to negotiate the malaise successfully.


Q: HOW HAS MITIE CHANGED


THE WAY YOU DO BUSINESS? Our growth has been based on the big brother model, using the leverage of a £2billion organisation but delivering locally. Dalkia was subcontracting their soft services and the acquisition allowed Mitie to bring those all under one provider and expand our offering to the client using their expertise. It’s been a case of making sure we’re not reinventing the wheel. We keep an eye on how it’s being done in the UK and then incorporate the innovations that work into our business.


16 | TOMORROW’S FM


Q: IS THE IRISH CLIMATE PROVING DIFFICULT FOR


MULTINATIONALS? A lot of the large multinationals that have come to Ireland have faced the recession and, due to a lack of new business in the country, have begun to step away from the Irish market and focus their efforts elsewhere. Locally, that’s a positive challenge for us as there become fewer FM providers in Ireland. One of the strengths of the big brother approach is that our service delivery, and our management structure, remained local so we understand the culture and the nuances of the Irish market. We’re paddling our own canoe and investing in Irish business, and that’s what Irish customers want. Mitie has invested in initiatives like our new helpdesk, which demonstrates a long-term commitment over here.


Q: WHEN DO YOU SEE THE IRISH MARKET RETURNING


TO STRENGTH? The market has to pick up eventually, but it will be a long time before it does. What we’re seeing is contracts moving between the large multinationals present in Ireland, but there hasn’t been any significant manufacturing business coming into Ireland for around seven years now. While employment is on the increase this is predominately as part of existing large multinational contracts. Whilst there are not a lot of new entrants into the Irish market there are opportunities within the public sector as the Irish government has a focus particularly around FM spend.


Q: HOW MUCH HAS YOUR GROWTH BEEN DRIVEN BY


UK CLIENTS? There are two elements to the client base. If a client is looking at EMEA and the Americas, then we’re struggling, but if they’re looking at UK & Ireland then Mitie in the UK are in a good position to tender, which obviously benefits us for new business.


Q: WHAT IS THE PUBLIC PERCEPTION OF FM IN


‘PIGGYBACKING’ ON MITIE’S


IRELAND? We don’t have the same image problem in Ireland as in the UK. I think the challenge in the UK is very much based around the public sector, where the image of FM has been somewhat skewed by bad press. The public sector in Ireland is quite a way behind the UK in terms of the trend for outsourcing, and part of our strategy is to address that.


Q: HOW DOES IRELAND’S PUBLIC SECTOR COMPARE


WITH ITS PRIVATE SECTOR? The private service streams are being driven predominantly by the customers. Some are better positioned than others to do that, and have taken different approaches to single service, starting with bundled and then moving to TFM. The private sector has developed towards TFM and it’s only now that the public sector is beginning to look at outsourcing single services to different vendors. Some of that is down to the challenges they have with the unions in moving away from the current incumbents.


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