A BOOMING online holiday company has bucked the credit crunch trend by creating 200 new jobs in Accrington.
In a week when many thousands of jobs throughout the country have been lost due to the deepest recession since the 1930s, the news has been warmly welcomed by council leader Peter Britcliffe.
In a major boost to the town’s ailing economy, outsourcer Sitel has taken over the former Thomas Cook offices at the Globe Centre after winning a 36-month contract with a leading online travel company, rumoured to be Expedia. It plans to fill the travel adviser posts by April.
Sitel director Mrs Marianne O’Shea Rutz said: “We wouldn’t have invested in Accrington if we weren’t convinced it would work. We’re not here for the short run.”
Sixty people, many of whom are former Thomas Cook workers, have already been employed at the call centre.
Sitel is looking to take on around 150 travel advisers and 40 support staff who will help customers book holidays, answer queries, advise customers on travel destinations and change booking details.
Mrs O’Shea Rutz said: “It’s very positive news for Hyndburn.
“Even though there’s a credit crunch people will always spend money on their holidays. The trend seems to be to take shorter breaks, but more of them, but there will always be the big budget holidays.
“We went live on 1 January and by the end of March we will have around 150 staff.
“The council has been extremely positive about us coming here and we have a really good relationship with the Jobcentre.
“We feel we can bring in other companies and increase the workforce further and we are looking to expand within this setting.
“There has been some serious investment in this site and it shows our long-term commitment.”
Mrs O’Shea Rutz added that one of the main reasons the company moved to Hyndburn was because of the recent Thomas Cook redundancies and the readily-available workforce with the required skills.
“In order to give people an excellent service we need excellent staff. If people have the skills and the enthusiasm there’s a job out there for them.”
Councillor Britcliffe welcomed the news, saying: “I’m delighted that we are bucking the national trend in this case.
“It’s good news that these jobs are being created but it’s not just the jobs – people will have extra spending power in the town centre shops.
“I think it’s especially good news for the former Thomas Cook staff because it could give them opportunities.
“Every cloud has a silver lining and let’s hope this is the first of many investments to come to Hyndburn.”
For more information about job vacancies email email@example.com or ring 612159.