Another 250 jobs are to be created in Bradford city centre by moneylending firm Provident Financial Group which is enjoying faster than expected growth at its Vanquis Bank credit card and savings subsidiary.
The growth will mean that Provident, will need to expand outside its new headquarters in Thornton Road and take its city centre-based workforce to more than 1,000.
Chief executive Peter Crook said options could include taking space in part of the former Sunwin House and T J Hughes department store building, which backs on to Provident’s Southgate base, or in the adjacent Thomas Cook building in Aldermanbury, which is due to close early next year as the troubled travel giant cuts its overheads. The former police headquarters or a successor building in The Tyrls could also be considered.
Provident, which moved into its new offices in September 2010, is already running out of space for staff at Vanquis Bank which occupies the second floor. The company is about halfway through recruiting 250 call centre staff and has space for about 100 more people.
But the rapid growth of the Vanquis Bank – which is on track to have more than one million customers and balances of more than £1 billion – means it will be looking for a further 250 people and Mr Crook wants to locate them in Bradford.
He said: “When we moved our head office into the Southgate building we had planned in some spare capacity where we put the Vanquis Bank call centre as the operations centre in Chatham, Kent, was full.
“We’re creating 250 jobs in the city centre but as Vanquis Bank continues to grow ahead of plan we will be looking to add a similar number and we’d like to base the extra 250 staff in Bradford as well, which will be good news for the city.
“By reorganising the existing office space we could squeeze some more Vanquis Bank staff in over and above the 100 new starters for whom we already have desks but we will definitely need extra space.
“I’m pleased that we will be creating more jobs in Bradford city centre, which is about 15,000 jobs short of what it should have.”
Mr Crook, who sits on the Bradford City Centre Development Group, said no formal discussions had yet taken place, but the annex of the former T J Hughes building might be suitable for Provident’s needs and is next door to its existing offices. He also said the soon-to-be-vacated Thomas Cook base was a possibility.
“We can probably manage for about another year but we’ll definitely need extra space, ideally in a nearby building and will be exploring the possibilities. We want to bring these jobs to Bradford where we have successfully recruited and trained our Vanquis Bank call centre workforce,” he said.
Sandy Needham, chief executive of Bradford Chamber of Commerce, welcomed Provident's expansion plans.
She said: “It’s great news for Bradford. Things have worked out well for Provident since its move into Thornton Road and it has been able to recruit and train suitable staff for the Vanquis Bank business. I’m delighted that the company is able to create so many more vacancies and is now looking to take on more staff.”
Bradford Council leader, Councillor David Green, said: “We are delighted that yet more employment in Bradford city centre is being offered, and we intend to work with Provident to help ensure they can manage their expansion as quickly as is possible, whichever of the options they decide on.
“It is more jobs coming into the city centre which will help increase footfall and continue to build on the work that has been going on for the last couple of years.”
He added that the Council would continue to work with partners in the private sector to “continue the trend of increasing employment”.