Wales

MotoNovo plans to create 587 jobs in Cardiff city centre move

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Media captionMotoNovo chief executive Mark Standish and Economy Minister Edwina Hart defend the £3m grant towards the move

A car finance firm is to create nearly 600 jobs in a £100m investment in the centre of Cardiff.

Rapidly-expanding MotoNovo is moving its headquarters across the city and planning to more than double in size over the next few years.

The company, owned by a South African bank, is relocating from Llanishen to Central Square in the city centre.

It joins a bank and a legal firm in the same office block being built next to Cardiff Central railway station.

Economy Minister Edwina Hart said: "It is a strong vote of confidence in Wales and what it can offer companies looking to grow their businesses.

"It is a substantial inward investment that will raise the profile of this thriving and rapidly expanding sector in Wales."

The new location is part of the city's enterprise zone and has been supported with a £3m Welsh Government grant.

MotoNovo already has 424 staff and has been looking for larger offices in the city since last year.

It has taken on 150 workers since the start of 2015 and is looking to take on 587 more over the next five years.

The firm is owned by South African FirstRand bank and sells car and motorcycle finance - including work with hundreds of dealerships.

ANALYSIS by Brian Meechan, BBC Wales business correspondent

Professional and financial services is one of the sectors that's been targeted by the Welsh Government as a key area for growth.

There have been quite significant developments in recent years including Deloitte creating hundreds of jobs in Cardiff's enterprise zone.

That zone focuses specifically on attracting professional and financial services companies.

Recent figures showed that in 2014/15, Cardiff more than doubled the number of jobs it had created in the zone, taking the total to a thousand.

There's also a professional and financial services sector panel of impressive Welsh business figures with global experience working to attract jobs to the country.

Cardiff's in a strong position because it has three universities which turn out skilled graduates every year.

Office space in the capital is also significantly cheaper than some other parts of the country.

But the idea of awarding grants to companies is also highly controversial to some who argue that money should not be given to businesses or, if it is, it should be in the form of a loan.

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Media captionThese workers at MotoNovo are positive about the expansion

Call centres are an increasingly important part of the Welsh economy.

The umbrella group for the industry, the Welsh Contact Centre Forum, says 30,000 people are now employed in it.

It forecasts growth of around 30% over the next three years and the creation of nearly 10,000 new jobs by 2019.

Critics say call centre jobs can be poorly paid and the workplaces are often not unionised.

However, they have provided jobs at a time when a great deal of manufacturing work has moved off-shore.

Image copyright Rightacres

MotoNovo was founded more than 40 years ago as Carlyle Finance and was part of the Julian Hodge Bank, before being sold 10 years ago. Then the workforce in Cardiff was around 60.

'Prouder'

Coincidentally, its former owners Julian Hodge Bank - which has 120 staff - is also relocating to the same nine-storey building, One Central Square, along with legal firm Blake Morgan.

The company rebranded as MotoNovo four years ago and was voted number six in the top UK 100 companies who are the best to work for in a recent Sunday Times annual survey.

Chief executive Mark Standish said the firm wanted to be "at the heart" of the financial services sector in Cardiff and it involved a £100m investment by the company.

"There's a rich pool of talent here with some established and recognised names," Mr Standish told BBC Wales.

He said there had been a "real competition" for the jobs, which could have been taken abroad, but they had made a convincing case to the South African parent company to expand in Cardiff.

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