Monday 23 October 2017

Expansion plans may see payments firm Realex switch HQ to London

Roisin Burke

As it scores another major contract win, the boss of Realex, which handles payments for firms worth €24 billion a year, is seriously considering moving its main operations to London.

"There are challenges to scaling up in Dublin," founder and chief executive Colm Lyon said. "You're competing with Facebook and others for both space and talent."

"Multinationals are very important, but you can't neglect indigenous businesses. We're keeping our options open and hedging our bets with London as we expand."

Realex has just struck a massive deal with a big Spanish bank, believed to be Santander, to manage its merchant services.

It recently launched Realex Fire, an easy payments service and its version for businesses rolls out in coming months.

"Realex Fire for business will give businesses a really nice way to get paid," Lyon said. "Already, pre-launch close to 500 businesses have registered."

The €14.2m revenue company does 60 per cent of its business in Britain, but Lyon also points to the ease of doing business, more flexible leases and bigger talent and advisor pools as reasons why he is considering moving core operations there.

Realex recently opened a Hammersmith office where 25 sales staff are based, with plans to increase that to 65 in the next few months. It employs 150 people in Dublin.

"Doing business there is very straightforward and flexible. If things were more like that in Dublin it would be to everyone's advantage.

"In Dublin we have a 10-year lease with a five-year break clause. In London we have a five-year lease with a three-year break. In Dublin lease negotiations were extensive and it took 16 months to be able to move in. In London it took about six weeks.

"Professional services, legal and corporate advisors are easier to come by," he added. "It is also faster and easier to recruit people there."

Lyon would also like to see some pro entrepreneur measures here like Britain's reduced Capital Gains Tax for entrepreneurs, where it's at just 10 per cent, compared with Ireland's 33 per cent.

"It would be nice if Ireland had a similar entrepreneurial tax regime, perhaps some relief attached to share options for staff at smaller companies." he said.

Sunday Independent

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