Sovereign House, North Street:
home to GMAC and Telegen UK
Business services and financial services together employ more than 25% of the city's workforce. The two are closely related and overlapping. The emergence of the do-everything call centre operation, and the tendency of all large businesses to dabble in finance (think Sainsbury's Bank, think Tesco Finance and Insurance) has muddied the waters.
Call centres, like Telegen UK (Sovereign House, Church Street), are business services, offering to deal with the customer services end of a company's business. The whackily-named Inkfish at Queens Square is a subsidiary of the drearily-names Domestic & General Group plc, and offers call centre operations. Its customers are the likes of Sky TV and and electronics giant, Sanyo.
Business services is not limited to call centres. The city also has Kimberly Clark, a 'global health and hygiene' company, manufacturer of loo paper, tissues, kitchen towels, and nappies, and many industrial products (hence business services) for the world. Kimberly Clark's offices are in Trafalgar Place, just below the station, and were officially opened by local MP, David Lepper, as recently as 2001. They deal with the company's European finance and accounting operations. But in the autumn of 2006 the company announced 135 redundancies, as part of a worldwide restructuring programme. It appears the jobs will be 'offshored'.
Not Just call Centres
There are many other significant players in the business services sector. DMH Stallard in Queens Road is a Top 100 law firm, advising businesses. It employs around 330 people and has an annual turnover of £21 million.
Then there are all the new media businesses and start ups, the growth in property services that has followed the revival of the city's economy, and a range of consultancy services, some of which have migrated (either employees or businesses) from London.
The Brighton & Hove Economic Strategy 2005 - 08 sounds a note of caution regarding the recent growth in business services.
It notes that "People registered with employment agencies now account for nearly one third of all 'business services' employment, following a significant increase in agency working. Whilst this may create flexibility and fluidity in the local labour market, it means that the city may be over-reliant on short term, insecure employment that may not be conducive to sustainable economic develoment and social stability."