Leading British department store chain Debenhams has announced today that it is to fully outsource its customer service department, meaning 230 internal staff members have been put into consultation.
Professional services firm Capita has been awarded the contract by Debenhams to take over this part of its operations, with the retailer claiming that its centre in Taunton, Somerset can no longer adequately handle the increased volumes of customer enquiries.
Although all job roles are expected to transfer over to Capita, its own contact centre is based in Leeds, Yorkshire and most of the existing customer service employees at Debenhams are likely to be made redundant as a consequence of the decision.
A Debenhams spokesperson commented: “The face of modern retail is changing. Customers increasingly expect retailers like Debenhams to provide a full multi-channel offer, allowing them to shop using a number of options. Our mobile sites and in-store kiosks are two recent examples.
“We have experienced an increase in customer enquiries and volumes are expected to rapidly grow in the next three years. We already outsource nearly 50 per cent of our calls to a third party and with demand continuing to grow we decided to undertake a strategic review to understand how best to meet the needs of our customers in the future.
“As a result of this review we have reached the conclusion that a specialist external provider is the optimal solution to support Debenhams continued growth.”
Debenhams says that the transfer of operations to the Capita centre in Leeds is likely to begin in mid-to-late summer this year, and that despite the outsourcing of the customer service team its head office switchboard will remain at the Bedford House office in the south-west.
In March the retailer reported a slight rise in sales for its first-half period, with like-for-like trading excluding VAT up 0.3 per cent year-on-year.