News : Bid to Save 100 Newcastle First Contact Call Centre Jobs Launched by Utilita Energy
Newcastle, England, April 30, 2018 -- Around 100 jobs at a Newcastle call centre could be saved amid rescue efforts by its largest customer, it has emerged.
Two years ago First Contact NE Limited (FCNE) was announcing plans to create hundreds of new jobs at its Newburn base on the back of growing demand for its services from clients.
Last week, however, the business was served a winding up order by HMRC, with a hearing set to take place in London this week, putting the workforce, which now stands at around 140 employees, at risk.
Almost all of the employees have been working on a telesales operation on behalf of Utilita, an independent energy companyin the UK, prompting the supplier to step in to put together a rescue package.
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A spokesman for Utilita said the firm’s lawyers were putting together a deal to save around 100 jobs at the Gateway House and that a deal is expected to be completed this week.
He said Utilita stepped in to pay wages owed by FCNE last Friday afternoon and that it is working to continue to operate a call centre on the site under its Utilita Telesales brand.
Utilita Energy CEO Bill Bullen also flew up to Newcastle from Utilita’s Hampshire HQ to personally speak to staff on Monday morning.
The firm’s director of retail, Steve Parker, said that Utilita feels it has a "moral obligation" to step in and do all it can. "These people – through no fault of their own – find themselves in a precarious position and we feel for them," said Mr Parker. "We value them, they have contributed to Utilita’s growth and success, and this is why we quickly made the decision to see if we can help.
"We don’t have to do this, we want to. There are no guarantees, but we want to reassure FCNE’s staff that we are working hard on their behalf and will do our utmost to try and keep a viable operation going at Gateway House."
Managing director Neil Wilson first established First Contact to provide facilities management services for Utilita Energy and, very swiftly, the firm needed to relocate to 10,000sqm of space in Gateway House to give it room to grow. Two years ago the firm said it expected to create more than 500 new jobs.
The petition to wind up First Contact (NE) Ltd was filed in the High Court of Justice (Chancery Division) on March 19 by the commissioners for HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), claiming to be creditors of the company.
A hearing has been set to take place at the High Court, Royal Courts of Justice, on Wednesday, May 2.
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