Eighty jobs are set to be axed at a Preston call centre.
Homeserve made the announcement yesterday after issuing a trading statement which predicts a drop in UK customer numbers.
The firm, which deals with emergency home repairs, currently employs around 600 people at the call centre in Fulwood.
Staff were told of the news at the Caxton Road centre on Thursday evening and yesterday morning.
Homeserve chief executive Jonathan King said: “Over the last couple of years, our business in the UK has been getting smaller.
“We think there are some very strong green shoots of recovery but we expect our business in terms of new customers to get smaller again.
“We have currently got 2.3m customers and we expect that to drop to 2m by this time next year.
“The focus of our work in Preston is the important job of answering the phone when people have an emergency.
“Unfortunately, the fact we will have fewer customers over the next year means there will be fewer calls coming into that call centre.
“The reduction in the number of jobs is proportionate to the number of calls coming into that centre.
“We do see the business stabilising in about a year’s time.
“Hopefully, at some point from there, we can grow again.
“We have agreed to spend £30m on upgrading our systems, so the board is still willing to invest.”
Homeserve employs around 2,000 staff across the UK and provides cover and insurance for boilers, plumbing, electrics and heating.
It announced yesterday it is shedding 300 jobs nationally, with more roles set to go in Walsall in the West Midlands and Banbury in Oxfordshire in addition to the Fulwood redundancies.
The firm confirmed it is in consultation with the workers affected.
Mr King had said in January this year that the firm would be focusing on retaining its UK customers rather than winning new ones, and striving to improve its current client retention rate of 80 per cent.
The company yesterday warned reductions in its customer base will cost it £35m in the new financial year, although this will be offset by headcount savings of around £10m.
Its shares also dropped 15 per cent yesterday.
In October 2011, the company suspended all sales calls from its headquarters in the West Midlands amid allegations of mis-selling by staff there, sparking an investigation by watchdog the Financial Services Authority (FSA).
It then cut more than 400 jobs across its call centres after stopping cold-calling phone tactics.
The trading statement yesterday confirmed the FSA investigation was still ongoing “and is expected to continue for a number of months.”
The group has also been retraining its remaining workforce.
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Monday 20 May 2013
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