Lithuania’s shared services sector won in three major categories at the Central and Eastern Europe Shared Services and Outsourcing Awards. At the black tie event in Warsaw last Thursday, Kaunas won the award for “emerging” city of the year, Vilnius won best city of the year, and Barclays Technology Centre in Vilnius was crowned best service centre in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE).
Lithuania featured heavily in this year’s awards, organised by leading Polish information portal Biznes Polska. Alongside the award winners, the short list of 27 nominations included six other companies from the Lithuanian shared services sector; Danske Bank, SEB, Western Union, Ahlstrom Vilnius, Storebrand Baltic, Barclays and Intermedix. In addition, the judging panel included a representative of Invest Lithuania, the foreign investment development agency, for the first time.
[quote text=”This award shows that Kaunas is becoming one of the hottest spots on the map, meaning expectations have risen. If the city is able to meet them, we can expect an even greater number of international companies in Kaunas.” name_surname=”Justinas Pagirys” description=”Director of Investment Development Department of Invest Lithuania”]
Kaunas has put itself on the shared services map by winning the best emerging city category, an award given in recognition of the rapid growth in the number of big service centres in the city. Last year, Intermedix, the US IT systems developer for the health care sector, opened an office in Kaunas which now employs over 200 specialists. And that number should grow further thanks to the EUR 100,000 cooperation agreement it recently signed with Kaunas University of Technology. Another foreign investor actively expanding in the city is Exadel, a US IT developer, which recently announced plans to establish a division employing from 20 to 30 people. Last year, Kaunas also saw UK company CallCredit expand itsservice centre, enlarging its premises and taking on 50 more employees. And with its newly confirmed status as the region’s growing city of service centres, this trend is set to continue.
Justinas Pagirys, director of the Investment Development Department of Invest Lithuania, believes this award means potential investors will have their eyes on Kaunas as a location for establishing a service centre in the CEE region. ‘In recent years, Kaunas has made huge progress and the investments and service centres which have been established and expanded in the city are evidence of this. This award shows that Kaunas is becoming one of the hottest spots on the map, meaning expectations have risen. If the city is able to meet them, we can expect an even greater number of international companies in Kaunas, and with them a growing number of jobs for high-quality specialists.”
Whilst Kaunas emerges as a new force, Vilnius was confirmed as the top shared services location in Central and Eastern Europe with its victory in the Best City category. Having won the emerging city award last year, Vilnius has gone from strength to strength, consolidating its position as a major shared services centre.
[quote text=”Having won the emerging city award last year, Vilnius has gone from strength to strength, consolidating its position as a major shared services centre.” name_surname=”” description=””]
Eight service centres were either established or significantly developed in Vilnius in 2014, creating an expected 940 new jobs. Lindorff, a credit management company, and Ahlstrom, a Finnish cellulose fibre manufacturer, both set up new centres.
Barclays, who were named best service centre in the region at the awards ceremony, have also established a new human resources centre in Vilnius last year. Barclays currently employs over 1,300 people, meaning that, on average, it has hired one new specialist each day since its establishment in Vilnius in 2009.
The growth in Vilnius’ shared services sector is both quantitative and qualitative. Nasdaq, the largest global stock exchange operator and supplier of capital market technologies, is establishing a centre which will provide 50 new, high-end jobs over the next six months. Furthermore, Danske has revealed plans to establish an IT service centre in Vilnius in 2015 which will recruit highly-qualified professionals. For Mr Pagirys, both Vilnius and Kaunas can expect continued expansion in the coming years. ‘Last years’ emerging city award boosted Vilnius’ profile on the international stage. Therefore, I hope next year will not only see Vilnius keeping up the same pace, but also Kaunas taking advantage of the attention that has been paid to it.’
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