Home shopping retailer Shop Direct is planning to close two of its call centres, putting almost 700 jobs at risk.
Webhelp, which operates the centres on behalf of Shop Direct, will close a call centre operation in Bolton early next year and another in Aintree the year after.
The plans are thought to be executed in the next 18 months and would see a number of Webhelp employees operating the Shop Direct account drop from 1,162 to 470.
The proposed closures are due to the reduction in call volumes expected over the next 10 years, together with the digital skills and infrastructure required to meet the changing customer needs that have been identified.
David Turner, Chief Executive Officer of Webhelp UK, said: “Consumer behaviour is continuously changing and as a digital retailer on a journey to becoming world-class, Shop Direct needs to be confident it can continue to anticipate the ways in which customers will want to communicate with its brands in the future.”
He added: “This is purely a proposal at this stage and will be subject to thorough and meaningful consultation with trade unions, employee representatives and employees at each affected site.”
Shop Direct CEO, Alex Baldock, said: “We set Webhelp the challenge of developing a customer service capability that would serve our customers’ needs over the next decade.
They have responded to that challenge by reviewing the estate they inherited from Serco and recommending the proposals that have been outlined to the trade union today.
Change can be difficult but it is necessary and we are confident that the proposals outlined by Webhelp will ensure we can continue to develop the fantastic digital service our customers are telling us they expect from Shop Direct.”
Despite the planned North West closures, the plan also includes Shop Direct establishing a centre of excellence in Cardiff, with the remainder of operations being handled in South Africa.