Two firms calling the shot as they reveal 250 jobs for west of Scotland

SCOTLAND'S call centre industry received a jobs boost yesterday with news that two firms are to create a total of 250 posts.

High street bellwether John Lewis announced plans to take on 200 workers at its customer service centre in Hamilton, taking the total employed at the site to 650.

In a second announcement, Barrhead Travel said it was creating 50 posts at its call centre in Glasgow, doubling the workforce at the facility.

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The John Lewis centre - which opened in June following a 700,000 grant from the Scottish Government - will now handle the employee-owned company's "gift list service", which is used by couples getting married.

Lesley Ballantyne, director of operational development at the retailer and a former managing director of the chain's Glasgow department store, 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."

The company has worked with the local JobCentrePlus offices around Hamilton to give unemployed people a guaranteed place on the assessment centres that it uses as part of its recruitment process.

Finance secretary John Swinney, who visited the site yesterday, said: "John Lewis is renowned for providing quality customer services and it is testament to the skilled and motivated staff here that John Lewis has chosen to expand in Hamilton.

"I welcome this vote of confidence in the local workforce and John Lewis commitment to its operations in Hamilton."

Meanwhile, Barrhead Travel is doubling the number of staff at its Glasgow call centre to 100 to cope with rising demand for its cruises and long-haul holidays.

Last month the company outlined plans to open a further ten stores throughout Scotland and create 50 posts.

The latest announcements will take Barrhead's headcount in Scotland and Northern Ireland to 550.

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Sharon Munro, Barrhead Travel's chief executive, said: "The past 12 months have been extremely successful for the firm, highlighted by a rapid expansion with ten stores opened across Scotland and Northern Ireland and staff numbers up by 25 per cent."

She said the jobs would be open to school leavers and workers looking to change careers.

Stuart Patrick, chief executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, added: "Barrhead Travel's sustained growth in challenging conditions is extremely promising for the city. Barrhead Travel stands out as one of Glasgow's best performing organisations in the last 12 months - as demonstrated in its continued expansion and financial stability. I eagerly anticipate what is shaping up to be a highly successful 2011 for Sharon and her team."

The firm, founded in 1975, has 21 stores in Scotland and Northern Ireland following the opening of a Hamilton branch last month.