Britain's largest electrical retailer, Dixons Stores Group, yesterday unveiled plans to double the capacity of its Sheffield-based call centre.

Already fielding a weekly average of 100,000 customer enquiries, the expansion reflects growing consumer demand for telephone support services and will cost the retailer £45 million.

Among the DSG brands serviced by the centre are Currys, Dixons, The Link, PC World and Mastercare. It also supports free ISP Freeserve, in which Dixons is the controlling shareholder.

Sheffield, a city once synonymous with steel-making, has been badly hit by the decline of traditional heavy industries and bears one of the UK’s highest unemployment rates. To some extent, the problem has been alleviated by the upsurge in call centres, which now employ over ten thousand in the city and its environs.

Dixons claims the main attraction of the region is the quality of its workforce and the level of support from local and regional bodies. But an equal lure, industry observers say, is that pay rates for unskilled workers are among the lowest in England.

News source: BBC Online Business News (UK)