Shared Services Centres Close to Students

Four large university towns (Tricity, Katowice, Łódź and Poznań) are successfully competing for SSC/BPO investors.

“Human capital is becoming increasingly important to the growth of the business services sector. That’s why cities with a strong university base are attractive to tenants, particularly in the case of more complex processes which require high-skilled and experienced employees. Companies are increasingly keen to engage in a variety of university programs to educate the labour pool they need,” says Bolesław Kołodziejczyk, PhD, Head of Research and Advisory at Cresa Poland.

Łódź: cooperation of schools and business

According to ABSL’s data, Łódź is the top city for cooperation of services centres and higher education institutions. “There are approximately 87,000 university students in Łódź and academic communities strongly support business. Both the Łódź University of Technology and the University of Łódź are setting up BPO/SSC/IT faculties or programs of study. All this is critical to the local labour market,” says Marta Pyziak, Head of the Łódź Office of Cresa Poland. Łódź is Poland’s six largest business services location with more than 20,000 people working in the BPO/SSC/IT sectors (ABSL’s data).

“The city is largely targeted by SSC companies offering F&A, payroll and procurement services, and recently increasingly by supply chain operators. We have recently recorded the openings of shared services centres by manufacturers operating in the Łódź region,” says Michał Śmiechowicz, Director of the Office of Economic Development and International Cooperation at the Łódź City Office. Last year’s new players in the SSC arena include BFF Banking Group, BSH IT, Philips Global Competence Centre and Commerz Systems, which either entered the market or substantially expanded their operations.

“Leading office developers in Poland have put their trust in Łódź. As a result, SSC companies do not have to wait long for their office requirements to be satisfied. The city’s total office stock is approximately 469,000 sq m and its vacancy rate stands at 8.7%,” says Bolesław Kołodziejczyk.

Tricity attracts financial services

Tricity is also a large university town in the Pomeranian region, which has a student population of over 84,000, and a major business services location. The BSS employs more than 26,000 people. “The Pomeranian SSC market is dominated by financial and banking, F&A and HR/RPO companies. In addition, half of all BSS investors are various IT processes firms,” says Marcin Grzegory, Deputy Director at Invest in Pomerania. “New, rapidly growing processes include advanced financial security (KYC, AML), logistics and supply chains.” New Pomeranian market entrants in 2018 were Qloc (IT), Diverse Consulting Group (IT/Fintech), Gibbs Hybrid (RPO/KPO), HiQ (IT), and 10sit (IT). Reinvestments were also announced by Arla Foods GBS, Amazon and PwC.

“Employment in the SSC sector is expected to grow at 10-12% per annum in the space of the next few years. It will be largely an organic growth as many centres have announced that they intend to expand,” explains Marcin Grzegory.

Katowice is competing for advanced processes

The Katowice Conurbation has a 7.5% share of Poland’s employment total in the business services sector. According to ABSL’s data, its SSCs and BPO centres employ approximately 21,000 people. The region’s fastest growing sector is IT. Last year saw the start of operations by Fujitsu and TÜV Rheinland while this year Honeywell opened its Customer Experience Excellence Center in Katowice. Meanwhile, most established investors continue to expand their scope of services and take on more staff.

“The business services sector is on a strong growth path in Katowice,” says Mariusz Jankowski, Head of the Investor Services Department of the Katowice City Office. “As new jobs are created, we would like this sector’s companies to grow and deliver ever more advanced processes for clients.” The Katowice Conurbation has approximately 94,000 students, of which approximately 60% in Katowice alone. There are 20 higher education institutions in the region, including 11 in Katowice. The city’s total office stock amounts to approx. 520,000 sqm.

Poznań: more IT specialists

Poznań is another major hub of business services centres. According to the data of the Poznań City
Office for 2018, the city’s BSS employs 17,500 people. “IT companies have stepped up their activity in recent months. Poznań universities turn out an ever growing number of IT graduates every year. IT firms present in the city are increasing headcount and the range of processes,” says Katarzyna Sobocińska, Deputy Director of the Investor Services Bureau of the Poznań City Office.

Last year’s newcomers to the Poznań market included UK firms: Computacenter (headcount expected to hit 200), GSK with another project in the capital city of Greater Poland: a financial and accounting services centre (200 people), and multilingual customer service centres: Transcosmos from Japan (500 people) and Conectys from Romania (up to 100 employees). New R&D centres of German origin were also set up in the city: Homag, Payworks and FEV. Companies such as Sii and Volkswagen Group Services, which have been present in Poznań for many years, are also taking on more staff.

“The BPO/SSC sector is extremely important for our city, because it creates knowledge-based jobs and provides employment for graduates of Poznań’s universities. Due to the low jobless rate in the city, we would like to attract mainly companies which would offer jobs for skilled labour and sustainable development opportunities for those in work,” concludes Katarzyna Sobocińska.

Poznań is one of Poland’s leading university towns. It has 25 higher education institutions and a student population of more than 110,000, including 800 new students enrolled for IT programs in the last two years.

Second choice cities

International corporations have been keen to set up shared services centres in Poland for years. Not all of them go for the top three cities (Warsaw, Wrocław and Krakow) for a variety of reasons, including location and costs.

“Tricity, Katowice, Łódź and Poznań are second choice options. They are large cities with a well-defined economic potential and strong aspirations. They also have a number of advantages such as office stock, well-developed transport networks and higher education institutions which are very important to tenants,” says Bolesław Kołodziejczyk, PhD, Cresa Poland.

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