The number of large-scale call centres in the UK is set to fall this year by 16 per cent , from 3,100 to 2,600 according to new research.
A study by Mitial Research predicts that the majority of call centre closures will come in the North East and the East and West Midlands. The research suggests that over the next two years the UK will lose 1,000 - or 32 per cent - of its current call centres before the sector stabilises and starts to show marginal growth again in 2005.
"The anticipated decline is the result of a classic market shakeout,” says Michael Allen, Managing Director of Mitial Research. “There are simply too many call centres providing too much capacity. The next 2 years will see a severe rationalisation of the sector and only the highest quality call centres will survive."
Other factors contributing to the decline include the transfer of call centres to overseas locations, both within the EU and to India, improvements in commercial websites which require less telephone contact between companies and their customers and the general economic downturn which has reduced overall demand for services.
Only Northern Ireland will see growth in 2003, doubling the number of large-scale locations to 40 by the end of the year.