Call centre industry growth expected when economy recovers

Call centre industry research reveals stalled market and collapse of operator profitability with growth expected only when the economy recovers.

A recent report, published by Apex Insight, investigates the outlook for contact centres in the current climate.

Key findings include:

  • Call centres are an important employer in the UK, accounting for more than twice the EU average proportion of jobs and over 5% of total employment in several UK regions.
  • The total value of the UK outsourced call, or contact, centre industry is estimated to be in excess of £2.5bn, although the market stalled during the economic downturn after 2008.
  • The market is still relatively fragmented – Capita and Vertex, which both combine extensive contact centre operations with wider business process outsourcing services, are the leaders but at least ten players have sales of more than £40m, including HERO and Firstsource, leading operators from India who have acquired UK contact centre operators to enable them to offer a dual capability.
  • While the revenue of this leading group has been fairly stable in recent years – despite some significant swings at the individual company level depending on large contract wins and losses – overall profitability decreased dramatically as the market has slowed.
  • Before 2008, the market was driven by the financial services and telecoms industries, which both rolled-out new offerings and business models on a large scale during the 1990s and 2000s to exploit opportunities offered by call centres; while further growth is expected from those sectors, we also believe the public sector may make a significant shift to outsourced call centres to meet government cost reduction targets.
  • However, market recovery relies to a significant extent on the performance of the overall economy as continuing weakness has affected the confidence of customers to take important outsourcing decisions.
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