THE 1,200-strong workforce at Chester Business Park is growing at the HSBC-owned company partly because its involvement in an Indian call centre has been wound down.
A total of 100 customer services advisors are being hired to ensure account holders who ring Chester have their calls answered quickly with all their queries answered.
New chief executive Colin Kersley said: “We will have 100 more people in this business by the end of the year. We are recruiting towards that now.”
He added: “Here in Chester we have fantastic people, a fantastic facility and we are looking to grow.”
Colin takes over from Brendan Cook. He has worked for HSBC for 34 years having joined from school when the finance house was called Midland Bank.
He said: “Life is tough and the economy is as tough as it gets. Me and the team are doing road-shows, talking to the 1,200 staff about the opportunities and challenges facing us.”
Colin reckons the banking crisis means people are turning to retail branded financial services like M&S Money, Tesco and Sainsbury’s.
“The M&S brand is superbly strong with strong values and a good customer base which is slightly older,” he added.
Colin said the success of the cash ISA had been phenomenal.
“We had a really good year. This year will definitely be tough but there are opportunities to grow the business.”
He said parent company HSBC was weathering the storm better than many of its competitors and was supportive, not only in terms of its balance sheet, but also because of its years of experience.
Colin said Chester had become a financial services capital because it was close to Manchester and Liverpool with good transport links.
He did not wish to comment on the prospects for other Chester-based finance houses like HBOS and Bank of America.
“I’m concentrating purely on what’s good for M&S Money and our parent venture partner HSBC.”
Married with two daughters, his interests include travel, golf, and supporting Newcastle United football club.
Founded in 1985, M&S Money is now a top-ten credit card provider and second-largest travel money retailer in the UK.
HSBC took over in 2004.