Business

Customer service firm to create 350 new jobs and targets hundreds more

A North East customer service company is set to create more than 350 new jobs when it expands into a new base on the back of a number of new contracts.

ECO, (EC Outsourcing) was launched in 2013 at the Boldon Business Centre in South Tyneside to support clients in a range of sectors through sales and service support. Customers included the likes of Buzz Bingo, Octopus Energy, Virgin Media and Shell Energy.

Now the firm is opening a new base at Solar House, on Sunderland’s Doxford International Business Park, as part of a wider recruitment drive that will see the outsourced contact centre business expand from a team of 450 to as many as 1,200 people.

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The company’s new Sunderland office will provide additional capacity for the business to grow, having won new contracts with customers including the Electricity Supply Board.

Phil Westoby, chief executive of the North East business, which will keep around 300 home-workers as well as its office based staff, said: “We’ve won a number of significant projects that mean we are in a position to expand the business quickly, with an additional office that will become our customer service focused hub, creating new jobs and opportunities for local people.

“I’ve been involved in contact centres across the UK for over 25 years but always been attracted to the North East by its hard working culture, friendly people and accent. That’s why I decided to grow the business in the region.

“The additional space will allow us to focus the teams in Sunderland and Boldon on customer service and sales functions respectively, with some home-based staff able to work flexibly.”

ECO has grown quickly since being set up by Mr Westoby, who held a range of senior roles in customer service centres before taking the leap to launch his own outsourced contact centre business, originally supporting an energy business.

While many businesses are turning their back on office spaces, Mr Westoby believes that keeping physical spaces and moving to a hybrid model offers flexibility, but helps to maintain the strong company culture he has established.

He said: “We have built a culture and work ethic that I am really proud of, and our office space is key to that. It’s a business where people stay and grow with us, and a key part of that is the environment we create in the office spaces we have. I’m really pleased that – for those that need it – we can offer home based working, but for those who want to be in a more dynamic working environment, they can be based in our centres.”

The company – which also has a base in Sheffield – has taken its lease on a 38,000 sq ft premises. It was assisted with its move by Sunderland City Council’s Business Investment Team.

Sunderland Council leader Graeme Miller said: “We have a proud track record of attracting investment into Sunderland in financial, professional and business services, and this latest announcement of 350 new jobs follows a string of additional new roles created by businesses including Barclays and Bellway.

“We’re thrilled to welcome ECO to the city, creating more jobs and opportunities for local people. We are hugely ambitious for this city, and with established developments like Doxford and Rainton, new business hubs like Riverside Sunderland and significant new job-creating schemes like the International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP) and Hillthorn Park moving forward, we are creating a stronger, more diverse economy to ensure this is the most successful city possible.”

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