Two call centres run on behalf of Shop Direct are to be shut down due the changing buying habits of its customers who are increasingly shopping online.

The closure of the centres in Preston and Worcester, run by Serco on behalf of Shop Direct, will begin in early June and should be completed by August after a consultation process began today.

The potential closure in Preston puts about 475 jobs in jeopardy and the Worceter centre employs 300 people however the company said it hopes some staff will be redeployed to other centres.

Serco said it is proposed that 75% of full time roles will remain in the UK, with 25% going overseas. Of this 25%, the proposal is for one quarter of roles to be based in India and three quarters in South Africa.

It is expected that UK operations will continue to be focused at Serco’s sites in Aintree, Bolton, Cardiff and Sheffield.

Carl Patching, transition and transformation manager for Serco, said Shop Direct no longer needs the site because many of its shoppers who have historically shopped via catalogues and ordered products over the phone, now shop via the web.

Online accounted for around 75% of the retailer’s sales last year.

“Because of that we have seen a reduction in the number of calls we receive in our call centre and we don’t see that changing,” said Patching.

“We have a dedicated redeployment team to help staff find alternative roles at other sites.”