Page last updated at 14:50 GMT, Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Call centre workers in Newtown win job reprieve

Shop Direct logo
Shop Direct owns brands including Littlewoods, Additions Direct

Plans to close a shopping call centre in Powys with the loss of 180 jobs have been delayed for six months.

Shop Direct announced in January that it intended to shut three centres in Newtown, Sunderland and Burnley, with the loss of a total of 1,500 staff.

It had proposed closing its operation in Newtown at the end of June, but after talks with a union and local MP Lembit Opik it has had a rethink.

Shop Direct said it was investigating further options to avoid redundancies.

The company said the proposed closure dates for Burnley and Sunderland were still being discussed as part of the consultation process, but no decisions have been made.

In January, the company blamed its announcement on the growth in the number of people choosing to shop online rather than phoning to speak to its operatives.

'Investigate'

It said that over the past five years, its proportion of sales online had increased from 18% to more than 60%.

But following talks with officials it has decided to delay its plans in Newtown.

A spokeswoman for Shop Direct Group said: "Shop Direct Group can confirm that the proposed closure date for the Newtown contact centre has been extended to the end of December 2010 to allow time to investigate further options with third parties for avoiding redundancies at Newtown.

"This extension was agreed following meetings between Shop Direct management, (the union) Usdaw, local MP Lembit Öpik and Newtown mayor Joy Jones."

Montgomeryshire MP Mr Opik said he had "nothing but praise for Shop Direct in delaying the closure" of the Powys call centre.

He added: "I am absolutely delighted with this news. Shop direct have acted really prudently in listening to the case that myself and the mayor have made."

Shop Direct owns brands including Littlewoods, Additions Direct, Very, Empire Stores and Marshall Ward.

It also bought the Woolworths name in the UK following that company's closure, which it has turned into an internet retailer.

The latest job cuts announcement comes a year after it trimmed its workforce by 1,150 positions.



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