Page last updated at 13:07 GMT, Thursday, 20 August 2009 14:07 UK

Tesco to create 800 finance jobs

Tesco logo
Tesco plans to expand its banking services

Tesco has announced plans to create more than 800 customer service centre jobs in Scotland to support its finance operation.

The supermarket giant said the centre would open in central Glasgow in the first half of 2010.

Tesco wants to offer a full banking service, with its Edinburgh-based Tesco Personal Finance (TPF) already having six million customers.

It hopes to open TPF branches in Tesco stores.

Six are being trialled at the moment, including one at the Silverburn Shopping Centre near Glasgow.

Tesco recently bought out former partner Royal Bank of Scotland's 50% stake in TPF, while there has been speculation that Tesco may also bid for Northern Rock when the government sells the lender.

This is a significant boost for Glasgow and the wider Scottish financial sector
Alex Salmond
First minister of Scotland

TPF, which currently employs 500 people in Edinburgh, has received a £5m grant from the Scottish Government to help create the service centre.

The company's chief executive Benny Higgins told BBC Radio Scotland: "We feel that in order to deliver high-quality service, we need high-quality people, and the decision to build a substantial presence in Scotland, and in particular in Glasgow, is a reflection that we think there is a very strong reservoir of talent."

Mr Higgins said the £5m Scottish Government grant had been a "very important part" of the decision to pick Glasgow ahead of other parts of the UK.

But he dismissed fears that the company would not have a long-term commitment to the city.

"We have taken a 20-year lease on this building - I think that speaks for itself," he said.

'Increased competition'

The jobs announcement was made ahead of a visit to TPF's Edinburgh base by Chancellor Alistair Darling.

Mr Darling told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that Tesco's announcement was a strong vote of confidence in Scotland's financial services industry.

He added: "I want to see increased competition in the [banking] system and that's why Tesco's announcement today is important.

"We do need more competition in the system. The last couple of years has seen a significant reduction in the number of people, both from abroad and British-based banks, who are lending into the market.

"We need more competition and that's something that we intend to encourage."

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond added: "This is a significant boost for Glasgow and the wider Scottish financial sector.

"Today's announcement reinforces our reputation as a leading centre for financial services and highlights again the competitiveness of our skilled workforce."

Glasgow Chamber of Commerce chief executive, Stuart Patrick, said: "Financial services is an important sector for this city, and this fantastic decision shows that despite the economic downturn, it is still growing.

"We have the skills and experience, and it is encouraging that this has been recognised by Tesco, with the creation of 800 jobs."

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