TRADE union leaders spoke of their shock at the prospect of more than 1,000 jobs losses at Speke-based Shop Direct.
Two of its four call centres face closure, and more jobs at the remaining centres could be lost if plans to send work overseas are agreed.
The online and catalogues retailer announced a 10-year outsourcing deal with services provider Serco for its call centre operations yesterday.
It involves 1,800 Shop Direct staff at the four call centres in Aintree, Bolton, Preston and Worcester transferring to Serco this July.
Serco said it proposes to close the Preston and Worcester sites, which could mean the loss of 1,000 jobs.
However, shopworkers’ union Usdaw warned that the remaining jobs at Aintree, in North Liverpool, and Bolton, could also be at risk under moves by Serco to “offshore” some of the work currently handled by Shop Direct’s existing centres.
Almost 1,000 staff work at Aintree, but about 600 will transfer in July, leaving more than 400, who could be affected by Serco’s shake-up plans.
Shop Direct says a change in consumer habits has resulted in the proposed changes.
About 75% of its sales are now conducted online compared with just 18% five years ago, which means far less orders taken over the phone.
Shop Direct said it handled 24.2 million phone calls in 2007-08, but only 13.4 million in 2011-12. The past six months has seen a fall of 1.65 million calls, alone.