Uncertainty for hundreds of call centre workers

HUNDREDS of staff at a Suffolk-based insurance company face losing their jobs unless they relocate after bosses announced they were transferring operations to Kent.

Tom Potter

HUNDREDS of staff at a Suffolk-based insurance company face losing their jobs unless they relocate after bosses announced they were transferring operations to Kent.

A total of 220 Direct Choice employees must choose between voluntary redundancy and relocation before the company moves to its new Folkestone headquarters in July.

Direct Choice currently has two call centres in Claydon and Newmarket, specialising in insurance and breakdown cover and each housing 110 staff.

Paul Green, head of communications for Saga, which owns Direct Choice, said the decision was down to the rapid expansion of the company.

“We have a successful and growing company fitted into two rather cramped buildings,” he commented.

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“The office in Newmarket is a cramped listed building and the Claydon office is located on an industrial estate. It's a matter of having outgrown them.

“We have been speaking with staff about our plan to close the buildings in Claydon and Newmarket and encouraging them to relocate.

“We obviously can't force them to relocate but would like to take them all with us. If people don't want to move there will be an opportunity for them to take voluntary redundancy.

“It is news they weren't expecting but it is better than the news other companies are giving staff.”

Around 80 percent of those affected are employed as call centre staff while the remaining 20pc hold management, audit and training roles within the company.

The move will see Direct Choice take up office at the former home of Eurotunnel, in Cheriton Parc, which Saga bought last year.

Mr Green added: “We have a building in Folkestone that is not being fully used so it makes commercial sense to move.

“There we have purpose built office accommodation in a building we own rather than lease.

“Direct Choice will remain independent but staff will be working alongside 3000 other Saga employees.”

“We will be running buses down to Folkestone for staff to see the town and stay overnight to find out if they like the area.

“It isn't the best news for Suffolk but the move is part of Direct Choice growing as a company.”