A TELECOMS firm is ditching its call centre in India and setting up in East Lancashire in an attempt to cut costs.
The boss of New Call Telecom said low rent, shorter call-handling times and a loyal workforce would make the office more cost-effective than its existing base in Mumbai.
The move is in stark contrast to the decision of a number of high-profile firms move operations abroad to save money.
Around 100 jobs are expected to be created in the first year at the former Time Computer Systems site in Simonstone, with 20 people being recruited immediately.
Former Time Computers site
Chief executive Nigel Eastwood, who hails from Burnley, said the premises were being rented for around £4 per square-metre - considerably less than units in India.
And he said the Ribble Valley centre would represent better value, despite staff being on higher wages than their Indian counterparts.
He said: “There might be a slight cost advantage in Mumbai in terms of salary, but real estate over there has gone through the roof.
“As well as occupancy costs, we have to send management out to India and put them up in hotels, and the jobs are in the hands of a third party.
"So there is parity between doing it over there and doing it in East Lancashire in some superb premises, where it is very cost-effective.
“We also have a real problem with staff retention in India because they just move to other companies.
“We train them up to a good standard, but for whatever reason we cannot keep hold of them.
“I’m a Burnley guy, born and bred, and I have always been passionate about the North West, particularly East Lancashire. Staff here are loyal.
“This is my opportunity to put something back into East Lancashire through employment and by providing really great customer service from our organisation.”
Time Computer Systems was one of the area’s largest employers before it went into administration in 2005.
Located minutes from Burnley and Padiham, the centre is likely to recruit people from both towns.
Community leaders welcomed the announcement, saying they hoped the firm would take a similar path to fast-growing communications firm Daisy, based at Nelson.
Gordon Birtwistle, MP for Burnley, said: “Obviously, I’m delighted that these jobs are coming to the area.
“They are jobs that we had initially had but were shipped abroad and now they are coming back.
“I always said that would happen because people do not work for next to nothing for very long.”
Charlie Briggs, Burnley Council leader, said: “With Shop Direct closing last year, there will be one or two people who worked there looking for this type of job.
“The jobs will be ideal for those who haven’t already been taken on by Daisy or don’t want to travel to Nelson.”
Mike Damms, chief executive of East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, said: “I’m not surprised at this and I would like to think it will continue to be a trend for some time to come.
“The fact is that the quality of life is good here.
Property is affordable, people travel short distances to work, food is competitively priced, schooling in some areas is good.
“A number of things make the area attractive.”
New Call Telecom was created in October when directors at Primus Telecommunications Ltd, which has a global turnover of $1.5billion, acquired the company’s retail assets in the UK in a management buyout.
It provides line rental, calls and broadband packages to homes and businesses.
Staff at the Simonstone centre will handle calls from Primus Saver customers.
They would be paid the minimum wage, with additional bonuses if they hit sales targets.
Former Barden High School pupil, Mr Eastwood, 44, cited an intention to expand as the company competes with giants like BT, Virgin and Sky.
He said: “We are growing quicker than ever due to the popularity of our broadband and home phone packages.
“It is a David and Goliath scenario because we are going up against all the big firms and giving people what they want at a time of recession.
Applications for a number of customer service and sales roles are available at Jobcentre Plus offices.
Alternatively, go to www.primussaver.co.uk.