Barclaycard rings in changes with offshore call centre move

Barclaycard is closing its Manchester-based call centre and culling 630 staff, with the work and a third of the roles heading in the direction of its operations in Delhi, Mumbai or Teesside.

The financial services giant says the move is because its business, although global, is too UK-focused operationally.

But, despite the reasoning, Barclaycard itself has said that the Peterloo site, which has been in operation since 1981, mostly handles customer service and sales calls for UK credit card customers.

The call centre will shut its doors for the last time on July 16, but staff will be paid until October to soften the blow and help them find new roles elsewhere in the Barclays group or with another company.

"Decisions like these are never easy and we will be doing everything we can to support those affected," said Antony Jenkins, Barclaycard's chief executive.

"Barclaycard's business is becoming more global and to stay successful we must change how we operate to reflect this. Unfortunately, closing our Peterloo House site in Manchester centre is part of that process."

The card supremo says it is working closely with Amicus to minimise the disruption caused by the closure, but the union has been quick to slam Barclaycard's decision.

"At a time of increasing pressure on all staff in Barclaycard we believe it to be totally inappropriate for this large and highly profitable employer to be announcing closures and job losses," said Amicus official Steve Pantak.

"We have made our opposition to these moves very clear to the bank. We are however continuing to meet with the bank and do have robust agreements in place which will help to find alternative jobs for those affected elsewhere in Barclays."

Barclaycard's decision to, at least in part, offshore call centre work, is in stark contrast to an announcement made last week by financial services rival Lloyds TSB.

Following on from the introduction of an automated telephone banking service, contact centre call rates dropped by 26 per cent. This meant that UK-based staff could cope with call volumes without requiring overflow assistance from an offshore centre.

"In the past, calls went through to our Mumbai contact centre when all of our other ten UK centres were busy,"said Sally Jones-Evans, managing director for telephone banking at Lloyds TSB.

"We have seen a huge increase in the number of customers using our new automated service which means that the number of overflow calls going into Mumbai has been steadily reducing and it has now got the point that all calls are being comfortably handled by our staff in the UK."

However, Lloyds TSB still plans to use offshore development and back office facilities in India for the time being.

The Lloyds TSB Group Union (LTU) welcomed the call centre u-turn, but says it will now do its best to ensure the other work is also returned to the UK.

"This [the Mumbai call centre closure] is both a major climbdown by the bank and a massive success for LTU," it said in a statement.

"The union has been alone in vigorously campaigning against the transfer of jobs to India. LTU's campaign will now switch to those back office and processing roles that the Bank still intends to transfer to India."

Maggie Holland

Maggie has been a journalist since 1999, starting her career as an editorial assistant on then-weekly magazine Computing, before working her way up to senior reporter level. In 2006, just weeks before ITPro was launched, Maggie joined Dennis Publishing as a reporter. Having worked her way up to editor of ITPro, she was appointed group editor of CloudPro and ITPro in April 2012. She became the editorial director and took responsibility for ChannelPro, in 2016.

Her areas of particular interest, aside from cloud, include management and C-level issues, the business value of technology, green and environmental issues and careers to name but a few.