Group plans to outsource customer contact staff to Serco


Nearly 1,000 jobs are at risk after home shopping retailer Shop Direct Group announced plans to outsource its customer contact centres and part of its financial services business to Serco.

Shop Direct Group (SDG) has reached a ten-year agreement with Serco to run its customer contact services and as a result intends to transfer 1,800 staff based at Aintree, Bolton, Preston and Worcester to Serco on July 1st.

Usdaw national officer David Johnson: “This is shocking news for all Shop Direct’s loyal and hardworking staff and potentially devastating news for everyone who works at the Preston and Worcester contact centres.

“We have long recognised the impact the changing nature of people’s shopping habits is having on Shop Direct, but we have been working closely with the business to address these challenges in a considered and managed way. Our members will understandably be very angry that this process appears to have been in vain and counted for little in the eyes of the company.

“The proposal to close two contact centres is obviously our most serious immediate concern, but Serco’s suggestion that they may also export jobs abroad means the future of any job transferred to them is uncertain at best.

“Usdaw has requested an urgent meeting with both Shop Direct Group and Serco and we will use the full statutory consultation process to examine the business case for the proposed transfer of staff and any subsequent contact centre closures in detail.”

The company also revealed that Serco intend to close Shop Direct’s contact centres in Preston and Worcester and that to further reduce costs it also proposes to off-shore some work to India and South Africa. Shop Direct said both the Preston and Worcester contact centres would remain open for at least a year and that no final decision on closure had been made.

Shop Direct Group claims that falling call volumes, resulting from increased on-line sales and more customers contacting the business by mobile and social media, necessitated a review of its future customer service needs. The company says outsourcing to Serco will enable it to reduce costs, increase flexibility and access the latest customer contact technology.

Any transfer of staff will take place under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations (TUPE) which require a statutory period of consultation with staff and their trade union.


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