Page last updated at 08:31 GMT, Saturday, 14 June 2008 09:31 UK

Warning over call centre job loss

The Ventura offices in Cardiff
The job losses were announced on Friday

The closure of a Cardiff call centre could be a taste of what is to come because of the credit crunch, a business expert has warned.

Up to 600 jobs are to go after Ventura announced its plans to shut its contact centre in the Splott area of the city.

Cardiff council says it will try to help staff find more work.

But Prof Brian Morgan, of the Cardiff School of Management at Uwic, said he believes more centres could close within the next six to nine months.

"I think this is just an example now what we're going to see more of over the next six to nine months as the credit crunch unravels and actually devolves its impact further and further down the supply chain," he said.

"The financial services sector is one of the biggest sectors now in the country and like all these big sectors it has a very intricate supply chain.

"Call centres are a part of the supply chain in the same way that catering and design consultancies are a part of the supply chain. These companies now will be feeling the impact of the job losses in central London."

Prof Brian Morgan
What we're now finding is that the basic building blocks of these financial services call centres are under pressure from the credit crunch
Prof Brian Morgan

Prof Morgan, who is a professor of entrepreneurship, said the call centre had recovered from previous job losses to India and the Far East and was now facing a new challenge.

"We stopped that haemorrhage of jobs [abroad] because now these call centres are very effective and they're very efficient and the cost savings of going abroad have been shown to not actually materialise at the end point," he said.

"So we have stopped that haemorrhage of jobs from losses abroad. But what we're now finding is that the basic building blocks of these financial services call centres are under pressure from the credit crunch."

However, the group representing call centres in Wales, the Welsh Contact Centre Forum, said it felt that the industry was still performing well.

The forum's managing director, Sandra Busby, said she had already received calls from other companies hoping to employ skilled workers from Ventura.

Financial support

"With Cardiff I think it's 3% unemployment currently, it's very, very difficult for organisations to get skilled, quality staff so it should be optimistic, particularly in the contact centre industry, for any member of staff that wants to stay in that industry," she said.

Councillor Neil McAvoy, deputy leader of Cardiff County Council, also assured Ventura staff they would do all they could to help.

"Cardiff is a dynamic city, there are jobs out there," he said.

"What we will be doing is working with partner agencies to do our best to see if we can get people jobs as soon as possible."

Plaid Cymru AM for South Wales Central Chris Franks said he hopes to meet the Welsh economic development minister Ieuan Wyn Jones soon.

"From the discussions that we have already had, I was pleased to hear that his department has already been in touch with the company," said Mr Franks.

"The company has received financial support from the government in the past. The minister is now looking to see if any support can be offered to keep these jobs in Cardiff."

Ventura, which is the UK's largest call centre outsourcer, said it hoped to redeploy staff into other roles where possible, although workers have expressed doubts that many would want to move to the firm's offices in Yorkshire.

The company's clients include O2 and the Volkswagen group.

The Cardiff office in Ocean Park House opened in 2004, when the former Serco call centre was taken over, securing and creating 300 jobs.

Owned by the Next clothing retailer, Ventura recently marked its 40th anniversary by announcing it was to rebrand, to include its wider range of services involving IT solutions, debt management and warehousing.

IC Wales Up to 600 jobs to be lost as Cardiff contact centre confirms closure plan - 24 hrs ago
Yorkshire Evening Post BREAKING: Leeds call centre firm Ventura confirms site closure plan - 32 hrs ago
Yorkshire Post Call centre operator warns of redundancies THE UK's largest call centre outsourcer is shutting one of its eigh - 33 hrs ago

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