Department store retailer John Lewis has announced plans to create 200 new jobs in Scotland by expanding its Hamilton-based customer contact centre.
The facility, which opened at Hamilton Technology Park in June 2010, will reach its capacity as a result of the extension and will employ a total of 650 people by the end of 2011.
A statement from the retailer indicated that new staff at the centre will support John Lewis’s gift list and customer order services.
Lesley Ballantyne, Director of Operational Development at John Lewis, commented: “We are very happy with the early performance of our contact centre and as a result we have decided to add further work streams.
“Our decision to add roles in Hamilton is a testament to our confidence in Scotland as a great place to recruit and retain the high quality partners we need to deliver excellent service for our customers.”
Her confidence in the Scottish workforce comes at a difficult time for the Scottish retail industry as a whole.
The latest Scottish Retail Consortium-KPMG data shows that December 2010 retail sales north of the border increased by just 0.7 per cent on a like-for-like basis compared to last year, with growth highly reliant on the food sector.
And despite being set against favourable comparisons with last year, the clothing & footwear and homewares & furniture categories continued to struggle.
In an interview with Retail Gazette last month, John Lewis Retail Operations Director Andrew Murphy noted the decline but was confident that the nation’s retail industry can recover.
“As a proud Scot it is a concern but I don’t see anything uncontrollable happening - it’s a natural correction to the economic cycle,” he explained.
“With too much retail development being allowed to take place in secondary locations, growth was always going to be difficult to sustain.
“Scottish retail will find its level and it will build again because the country’s economy is robust enough.”