New jobs for Scotland with John Lewis
New employment opportunities will be created in Scotland as a result of expansion plans by a UK retailer.
John Lewis's contact centre in Lanarkshire will be taken to full capacity, meaning 200 new jobs. By the end of 2011, 650 employees will be working in the centre at Hamilton Technology Park.
Lesley Ballantyne, director of operational development, said: "Our decision to add roles in Hamilton is a testament to our confidence in Scotland as a great place to recruit and retain the high-quality partners we need to deliver excellent service for our customers."
Scottish finance secretary John Swinney said the expansion showed a "vote of confidence" in the local workforce. The centre, which opened in June last year, was originally supported with funding of £700,000 from the Scottish government.
Retail employment opportunities continue to grow in Scotland, with Barrhead Travel also planning to increase staff numbers. The travel group will add 50 jobs to its call centre in Glasgow, doubling the current workforce.
Five further branches of Barrhead Travel, the largest independent travel group in the country, are planned for 2011.
Sharon Munro, Barrhead Travel's chief executive, said: "The last 12 months have been extremely successful for the firm, only highlighted by a rapid expansion with ten new stores opened across Scotland and Northern Ireland and staff numbers up by 25 per cent."
The surge in retail jobs seems to buck the current national trend of retailers downsizing to cope with poor sales growth. According to the BRC-Bond Pierce Retail Jobs Monitor, tough trading conditions means staff saw a fall in working hours in the final quarter of 2010.
This research revealed that 38 per cent of retailers planned to decrease staff numbers in 2011.
The Centre for Retail Research said the retail job market would suffer in 2011, predicting that 10,000 stores will close in the next 12 months, with even large retailers closing branches.
Similarly, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) believes retail growth in 2011 will be poor this year, despite a 2.3 per cent increase in sales values in January. The consortium say the increase reflects pre-VAT rise purchases, pent up demand following the heavy snow in December and new year sales.
Towards the end of the month, sales slowed, and the BRC say consumer confidence is still low due to pressures from the VAT rise and the current economic climate. BRC director general Stephen Robertson called sales figures for January "feeble" in comparison with January 2010.
He argues that worries about job security and personal finances are now back in consumers' minds.
The rise of online retailers also casts doubt on the future of the British high street. BRC figures show faster growth in online sales than in-store sales. In addition, low start-up costs mean people wanting to enter the online retail market face few barriers, meaning more competition for high street stores.
Retail employment opportunities are on the rise in Lanarkshire and Glasgow, but it is uncertain whether the expansion seen in Scotland will be possible in other areas of the UK.
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