Shop Direct to axe 1,500 jobs

Home shopping group Shop Direct is to axe 1,500 jobs at three of its centres, union leaders were told today.

The GMB said the cuts in Sunderland, Burnley and Newtown in Mid Wales were a "devastating blow" to local communities.



The union said it would do everything it could during the 90-day consultation to lessen the impact of the "disastrous" news.



Northern regional officer Mick Hopper said: "We have been in negotiations with the employer over a long period to arrive at work practices and terms and conditions of employment to ensure the success of the company.



"This announcement is a body blow in an area of very high unemployment. We will be seeking help from elected representatives and other Government agencies to see what can be done to save jobs."











Shop Direct confirmed it planned to close its contact centres in Sunderland, Burnley and Newtown, adding that it aimed to create 350 new roles at its remaining sites.

The company said in a statement: "Following a successful peak trading period where total sales grew by 6 per cent and online sales by 19 per cent, Shop Direct Group now looks set to exceed its target of 70 per cent of its sales online by 2010/11.



"More of its customers are choosing to shop its brands through the web and today it has announced proposals to change its operational structure to reflect this change in customer behaviour.



"With more customers shopping online than ever before and peaking at 85 per cent during the recent Christmas period, Shop Direct Group is now faced with excess capacity and more space in its contact centres than it needs to handle the declining call volumes.



"Less than four years ago, 33 million calls were taken through its contact centres compared to only 19 million today. Customers are becoming increasingly self-sufficient, choosing to transact through the web and manage their accounts online."



Chief executive Mark Newton-Jones said: "We recognise that this is a very difficult time for those teams affected by the proposed contact centre closures.



"We are working closely with the trade unions to help staff through the consultation process and support them in finding future employment.



"Over the past five years, the proportion of our online sales has grown from 18 per cent to account for over 60 per cent of our business today resulting in excess capacity and space in our contact centres.



"We are a strong and growing business and we need to adapt to reflect the way our customers choose to shop with us."



The shopworkers' union Usdaw said the sites will close in April or May.



National officer David Johnson said: "The closure of Shop Direct sites and the subsequent loss of so many jobs will come as terrible news for our members.



"Usdaw opposes the closures and we will be examining the business case in further detail through our national forums to see if there is any way to avoid the closures.



"Should these closures go ahead, we will be doing all we can to ensure that our members receive the best possible redundancy package and are kept fully informed throughout the process at this time of uncertainty."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£13000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to be part of a ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Are you passionate about sale...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Developer (Trainee) - City, London

£25000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A large financial services company...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Assistant - Financial Services Sector - London

£20400 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and highly reputable organisat...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future