Yell creates 250 jobs with directories expansion

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The Independent Online

Yell Group has beefed up its presence in the competitive directory enquiries market after investing in a new call centre in Wales to handle the higher numbers of calls to its 118 247 service.

The new centre, to be located in Newport, is expected to create more than 250 jobs over the next four years, which almost doubles the number of directory enquiries staff that Yell employs.

Yell's call volumes have surged 60 per cent in the six months to September despite concerns that increasing numbers of consumers are using the internet to locate numbers for free.

Yell is a top-three player in the UK directory enquiries market trailing The Number's 118 118 service and BT's 118 500. The telecoms regulator Ofcom said in March that The Number, which has invested heavily in television and outdoor advertising, was the dominant player with a market share of 42 per cent. BT had a market share of 26 per cent with Yell a distant third with 6 per cent of the market.

The UK directory enquiries market was deregulated in 2003, leading to a land-grab as about 100 companies jostled for a licence to compete in the lucrative market.

However, consumers have been put off by poor service and unpredictable pricing that has resulted in some being charged as much as £2 to locate a number. Numerous players have since dropped out of the market.

Of the larger players, The Number has been the worst hit by the consumer backlash against poor service and high pricing.

Last year its parent company, Infonxx, shelved plans for a flotation of the business at in excess of £500m after profits collapsed by 96 per cent. The Number has subsequently launched a service that does not charge consumers if they call from a fixed-line phone.

Yell expects to open its new call centre in April. It received a grant from the Welsh Assembly of close to £1m. More than 24,000 people in Wales are employed in the call centre industry.