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Irish engineering firm expands international reach with investment worth over €1m
Kirby Group Engineering has officially opened its new office in Cape Town, the company’s first base outside of Europe. Management welcomed Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ireland, Micheál Martin T.D. to the office within the iconic Newlands Cricket Ground, to mark the occasion.
The Limerick-headquartered firm was established by brothers Tom and Michael Kirby in Thomondgate in 1964 and since then has grown to become a leading provider of mechanical and electrical engineering contracting services. Kirby now employs over 1400 staff across nine European countries and recorded a turnover of more than €454m in 2022.
30 people are expected to be working at the Cape Town office by the end of this year and the firm is expecting to grow that number further in 2024. Tánaiste Micheál Martin wished the company well with the project: “Having visited Kirby’s headquarters in 2021 for the announcement of another significant expansion plan, I’m delighted to be here today and see the continued growth of a strong Irish company - and indeed a milestone for the sector in which Kirby is operating. Establishing a presence in South Africa offers many benefits to a company such as Kirby and I’d like to wish you every success as you build further on a great Irish business story. Ireland’s business and trade links with South Africa are strong and growing, and Kirby is very much at the forefront of that growth.”
The management team at Kirby selected South Africa for the new base for several reasons, including the talented workforce - which has already seen many South African people join the Kirby team across Europe, the high standard of education within the graduate community, the lack of a language barrier and the fact that South Africa has a similar time zone to Ireland.
The company’s Cape Town team will be made up of engineers, quantity surveyors, talent acquisition specialists and others who can all contribute to projects on an off-site basis. Group Executive Chairman Jimmy Kirby says it’s an exciting step: “This is a landmark day for Kirby Group Engineering and we’re honoured to have Tánaiste Micheál Martin here for the occasion. Our firm has recorded significant growth in recent years, thanks to the hard work and dedication of our team and the trust placed in us by our valued customers. Expansion outside the EU and into South Africa represents a great opportunity to access local talent here and is a statement of confidence in the future of this company. This move has been 12 months in the planning and execution, and we've enjoyed a very warm welcome from the South African government and business community. I’d like to thank Enterprise Ireland and Invest South Africa for all their help so far and I look forward to building on Kirby’s relationships here long into the future”.
Wesgro CEO, Wrenelle Stander says: “Wesgro welcomes Kirby to Cape Town and the Western Cape. With our world-class infrastructure, top universities, young talented workforce, excellent governance record and a commitment to making it easy to do business, the Western Cape supports thriving manufacturing and construction businesses. We wish to thank Kirby Group Engineering for choosing to invest in our destination, which will contribute immensely to the economy of the province and create much needed jobs”.
Enterprise Ireland’s Country Manager for South Africa Nicola Kelly says: “Commercial ties between Ireland and South Africa have continued to expand in recent years. Kirby’s decision to establish a base here in vibrant Cape Town is very welcome news and is a real vote of confidence as they continue to deliver large, complex projects for major international clients.”
Recruitment for the Cape Town office began in recent months and current vacancies are listed on careers.kirbygroup.com.