Call centre hailed as success story

A CALL centre has been hailed as “a great success story for Suffolk” as new long-term contracts bring a local employment boost.

A CALL centre has been hailed as “a great success story for Suffolk” as new long-term contracts bring a local employment boost.

The Ipsos-Mori office in Lowestoft was set up at the end of 2004 and over the last four years its workforce has fluctuated from a high of around 350 staff to lows as short-term contracts come to an end.

Between May and July of last year, its workforce fell to around 60, including 40 telephone interviewers, but has now soared to 235 after winning a number of long-term contracts.

Julian Munson, acting chief executive at the Suffolk Development Agency, welcomed the boost to local business.

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“The Suffolk Development Agency is delighted that Ipsos-Mori is expanding its operations in Lowestoft. Having worked closely with Ipsos-Mori from day one, in association with Waveney District Council and Job Centre Plus, helping to source appropriate premises and recruit new staff, it's very rewarding to see the company go from strength to strength,” he said.

“This is a great success story for the town.”

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Steve Baldwin, telephone centre manager at Lowestoft, said staffing levels were now far more stable than at the start, when contracts were shorter-term, and many employees are now working longer hours.

“Now we are an established business in the town, we now have a far more stable workforce,” he said.

“I think it's a big success for Lowestoft because it's a sustained business. Other businesses similar to our own have not been so successful.”

The firm scooped a major three-year contract with Sport England in October 2007, divided between its offices in Lowestoft, Edinburgh, Harrow and Winnipeg, involving 500 20-minute interviews a day for its Active People survey. It carried out a similar shorter-term contract for Sport England between October 2005 and October 2006.

It is also due to begin a National Student Survey in February, which runs for 12 weeks, and has won a TV job which will run for in the region of three years.

Robert Kirby, managing director of telephone sales at Ipsos-Mori said: “The Suffolk Development Agency, especially Julian Munson, the SDA's acting chief executive, was unbelievably helpful from the outset in getting us started in Lowestoft. It really paved the way for us being instrumental in finding the premises and it still keeps in touch to see how things are progressing.”

Mr Baldwin said they were currently recruiting more day-time staff to the centre, which also runs shifts from the afternoon into the evening.

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