O'Brien's Saongroup planning to expand


BEIJING INVESTMENT:IRISH ONLINE recruiter Saongroup, which is majority owned by Denis O’Brien, is planning to invest €25 million and expand its presence in China to 130 cities by the end of 2013.

This will be Saongroup’s biggest investment outside Ireland – where it operates as Irishjobs.ie– and will bring to €40 million the amount it has spent in China since the company’s launch there in 2006.

The investment was announced overnight at Saongroup’s Beijing office by Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton during Enterprise Ireland’s trade mission to China, led by Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

This will treble the number of Chinese cities in which Saongroup is active.

It will also boost employee numbers to about 3,000 from 1,800 currently and make it the biggest Ireland-based employer in China.

Speaking to The Irish Times from China yesterday, Saongroup’s chairman Leslie Buckley, a long-time business associate of Mr O’Brien who owns 25 per cent of the recruiter, said he had no doubt the investment would pay off.

“We are very satisfied that we will get a good return on this,” Mr Buckley said.

“In actual fact, the core business in China is profitable.

“Within a two-year period we can be at break even in each of the cities that we’re going to. We’ve proven that model already.”