THE impending closure of the Business Link advisory service continues to eat into the workforce of Business and Enterprise Group, which revealed another 170 jobs could go in the run-up to Christmas.
The national Seaham-based firm is conducting a 90-day consultation ending on December 1, which could see over half of its 328 staff depart. This adds to the 135 lay-offs announced at the tail end of last year.
BE Group has announced contract wins in the business services world in the last year, but said it was seeing “profound changes” in its markets. The most notable of these is the upcoming November closure of the Business Link regional advisory service, which has been run by BE Group in the North East since 2007. BE Group chief executive Alastair MacColl said: “This kind of change is always difficult for all those involved and we are doing everything possible to reduce the impact that it has on a very talented and committed team.
“But like any other good business we are acting promptly to ensure that our cost base is in line with our ability to generate revenue. This means we’re able to respond to local and national needs and provide an extremely competitive platform upon which to build long term growth.
“We are seeing some profound changes in the markets that we operate in and we feel we need to take this opportunity to restructure in a way that makes us even more competitive.
“Some of these changes will provide substantial opportunities for an ambitious young business like the BE Group and this restructure will make sure we are well equipped to take advantage of those opportunities.” BE Group won two contracts in as many months over the summer, which is expected to create a need for extra staff. It is teaming up with GLE Group to handle loan distribution as part of the Government’s New Enterprise Allowance scheme, which will offer mentors and potentially loans to enable Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants to set up their own businesses. Furthermore, the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills snapped up BE Group and London call centre operator Careline Services to run its Business Link helpline.
It changed its name from Business and Enterprise UK after picking up UK event management, international trade and supply chain management firm Business-to-Business in April.
MacColl said: “It’s never been more important to stimulate private sector growth and jobs. I am extremely pleased that through new contracts that we have been winning and the new products that we have been developing our group will continue to make a substantial contribution to that effort. By helping businesses to be more competitive and by helping entrepreneurs start and grow successful businesses – both in the North East and across the rest of the country.”