Losing Kiwibank call centre bid a blow to city

CHRIS HYDE
Last updated 12:00 02/04/2014

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Kiwibank will meet with those tasked with attracting contact centres to Manawatu to explain why it chose Hastings over Palmerston North for its new 100-seat contact centre.

Palmerston North was shortlisted as a potential location for the centre, which will employ more than 100 staff and provide core banking services currently only able to be done in Wellington. The announcement that Hastings had been chosen was a blow for the "re-energised" Manawatu Contact Centre Cluster, which is expecting to create close to 200 jobs in Manawatu in the next 12 months as well as ratepayer funded big-business hunter Spearhead Manawatu.

Spearhead Manawatu manager Craig Nash said provincial centres were in the spotlight for contact centres but places like Hawke's Bay were beginning to realise there was a market too.

"At the end of the day, you can't win them all but you can learn from the process and we have a debrief coming up with Kiwibank because of that," Nash said.

"Our understanding is that we were very close. I think the availability of a property in Hastings was a big attraction for them but they spoke positively of our proposition."

Nash said the region would be better placed to accommodate the next government department that wanted to shift contact centres from Wellington as a result of the process.

"The good news is that this is a state-owned business moving some of its operations to provincial New Zealand. There's a real opportunity for other government departments to do the same and we will be there to attract them."

Kiwibank chief executive Paul Brock said recent earthquakes, extreme weather events and the risks of events such as fire or gas leaks had prompted a review.

"We provide most transactional services in our Wellington head office, with some services based in Auckland. However, we are now establishing a strong regional office that can cover an event that affects the two main offices.

"Our main base will remain in Wellington where we employ more than 1000 staff."

Brock said a range of locations were considered for the new office, but Hastings provided the best fit.

"The new office will ensure that there is a seamless continuity of business-critical services, even if something has caused disruption at Auckland or Wellington."

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- Manawatu Standard

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