Lawson goes on hiring blitz in Asia

Fresh from its merger with Intentia in April, the ERP vendor is on a big expansion mode in the region.

SINGAPORE--Post-merger mid-market ERP (enterprise resource planning) specialist Lawson Software is on a hiring spree in the Asia-Pacific region.

In an interview with ZDNet Asia Friday, CEO Harry Debes confirmed that the company will increase its headcount by over 80 percent over the next 12 months. The target is to grow the current number of employees from 320 to 600 in the region by the end of December 2007.

Lawson completed its merger with Intentia on Apr. 25. Debes came onboard as the company's CEO in June last year, and was specifically tasked with handling the merger, he said. He was previously with J.D. Edwards, and subsequently PeopleSoft after it bought the former.

Part of the aim of the merger was for Lawson to expand its business outside of North America, and, vice versa, for Intentia to make inroads into the North America market.

Debes, who is in Singapore on a multi-city customer visit, said: "Part of this hiring exercise will happen in Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia." The company intends to hire mainly sales staff, focusing on service industries, such as healthcare, retail, and financial services, in these locales, he added.

The bulk of the hire in the Asia-Pacific region, however, will go towards the establishment of a global support, development and professional services center in Manila, Philippines.

The center, which was set up last November, has 120 staff, said Debes. By end of this year, it will house 200 staff, with another 200 more to be added by end of 2007, he said.

Why choose to expand in the Philippines and not India, the more favored choice of most multinationals?

Admitting that the company is "a little late" in the offshoring game, Debes said: "The former Lawson didn't have an offshore strategy for a while. India today has a high rate of inflation, a high [labor] attrition rate, with many big, global brands competing."

The Manila center will beef up Lawson's competency and resources support capability in the region, he said.

Debes noted that the hiring spree in the Asia-Pacific region is "not unusual", and added that Lawson is actively recruiting in the United State, too.

In order to better the serve the U.S. market, Lawson has grown its direct sales operations for Movex--Intentia's flagship product line--from six at the time of the merger to 12 today. The target is to increase the headcount to 20 by year-end and to 50 by the end of 2007, said Debes.

Lawson, which released its preliminary fiscal year results on Jul. 27, reported license revenues of US$70.8 million to US$71.3 million for fiscal year 2006 ended May 31, 2006. Debes said license revenues are expected to grow by 15 percent over the next fiscal year.

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