Shopping online leads to jobs axe

Date published: 29 January 2009

WORKERS at Shop Direct’s national distribution centre in Shaw are facing anxious times after the home shopping giant announced redundancies.

The company, formerly known as Littlewoods Home Shopping, will close a call centre in Crosby, Merseyside, with the loss of around 1,000 jobs.

Around 150 further redundancies will be made at the company’s headquarters in Speke, Liverpool, with more expected to go at its financial services division in Aintree, Liverpool, a call centre in Preston and at the warehousing division in Manchester.

A spokesman said: “It will affect some support staff across our warehouse operations that include Shaw but we can’t give figures due to staff consultation.”

The 23-acre Linney Lane site is the central hub of the company’s distribution network, comprising five buildings, three of which are converted former cotton mills. The company also has a site at Raven Mill, Chadderton, which processes customer returns for the whole group.

Shop Direct employs 10,500 people, including up to 1,250 staff in Shaw, and has sales of £1.6 billion.

One of Britain’s biggest home shopping companies, bosses say they are restructuring to become an online-led business as customers have become more confident with internet shopping, leading to a reduction in telephone orders.

Around 250 of the under–threat jobs may be saved if workers agree to relocation. Workers were told a 90-day consultation is under way and talks with unions are due to start.

Shop Direct Group includes the former catalogue shopping giants of Littlewoods, Great Universal and Kays as well as Additions Direct, Marshall Ward and Choice.

Sales were up 9 per cent in a January trading update, with online sales growth of 44 per cent.

Chief Executive Mark Newton Jones said: “The way our customers shop with us is changing. We anticipate that 70 per cent of sales will be online by 2010-11 and, therefore, the future of our business is online–led.”