A Cornish financial management company has launched a recruitment drive to hire 300 workers for a new call centre in Plymouth.
The Money Group is holding its first round of interviews today as it prepares to take over part of Hatfield House, in Burrington Way, in order to turn it into a call centre for its financial management services.
Managing director Tony Murtagh said the firm considered opening an outlet in Cardiff, before opting to retain its Westcountry focus.
"Cardiff was, logistically, four hours from us and Plymouth was one-and-a-half hours, which gives us some benefits. It's also a greater populace to recruit from, it's ten times the size of Truro, and the building we're moving to has all the parking in the world which is a massive advantage," he said.
Mr Murtagh also praised Plymouth City Council for its role in helping the company to find a base in the city, saying that without this he would have looked elsewhere.
The business already employs 205 people at its Truro base and has previously targeted expansion into Plymouth in 2010 when it tried to take over the former 118 118 call centre in Plympton.
Negotiations for the site proved complex and long-winded and the Money Group walked away from the deal and sought to consolidate its activities in Truro instead.
It transferred its Truro operations from two sites to a single building in Charles Street, announcing plans to hire an extra 300 workers.
But Mr Murtagh said it had been difficult to recruit enough staff in Cornwall – prompting the business to look further afield again.
"For us it makes sense to go to Plymouth, that's the size of population we need," he said.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, a number of companies opened call centres in the city to take advantage of property and staff costs that were among the lowest in the UK.
But with increasing competition from low wage economies such as India, many of these centres – including 118 118, ITV Digital and UsitCAMPUS – have since closed their Plymouth outlets, leaving many experienced call handling staff in the city.
Having diversified from its core business of mortgage products, the Money Group has grown rapidly during the recession as a result of its debt management services including individual voluntary arrangements, an alternative to bankruptcy.
"What underpins this growth is the economy. If someone is in debt there is no way they can borrow their way out of it. In the past, people were able to get consolidation loans and mortgages that allowed them to consolidate but that's all gone now," added Mr Murtagh.
David Parlby, chief executive of Plymouth Chamber of Commerce, said: "This is investment from the financial services sector which says to me that businesses are starting to wake up to Plymouth and what it can offer."
Council leader Tudor Evans said: "This is a significant amount of jobs earmarked for Plymouth in the financial services sector – an area which we have already identified as a growth sector."