Ant Marketing on the march with new site

AROUND 200 jobs are expected to be created in Sheffield by one of Britain’s biggest telemarketing companies.

Ant Marketing is investing more than £2m on developing a fourth site after enjoying a period of rapid expansion, despite the economic uncertainty.

Ant’s new premises on St Mary’s Road in Sheffield will cover more than 20,000 sq ft.

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Staff employed there will deliver sales service to some of the UK’s biggest companies, including British Gas.

The new inner city facility, which has been designed by local architects, Escafeld, will be operational by the end of the year.

A company spokesman said the new centre would complement Ant’s three other operations in the region.

Anthony Hinchliffe, Ant’s managing director, said yesterday: “This is a particularly exciting move for the company, which continues to grow in difficult trading times when so many businesses, some within the telemarketing industry, are struggling.

“Ant is undoubtedly on the up and up. It prides itself on its strong client relationships, ability to deliver results and its flexible and creative approach.

“Combined with sheer hard work, all these features have enabled the company to buck the trend and enjoy sustained growth.”

Mr Hinchliffe said clients were keen on telephone marketing activity because it was measurable and could be started quickly.

He said the new premises were based on the site of a defunct car dealership which had been empty for four years.

He added: “If you have got the space available and have a good working environment, then it does bring good news with it. I was keen to expand during the recession.

“We spend a lot of time and energy selecting the best people.”

The company is keen to highlight its low staff attrition rates, which means clients benefit from savings made in recruitment and training costs.

According to the company, it also means there is a greater depth of experience among the telephone agents and management team. Mr Hinchliffe said: “A lot of staff joined us as a short term stop-gap and have stayed with us for years. We have got plans to double the size of the company.”

The company was founded in 1989 by Mr Hinchliffe.

In the early days, a single employee manned one phone line. Today it has 700 staff and turnover of around £8m.

By the time the new premises open next year, Ant Marketing will have three sites in Sheffield and one in Rotherham.

The company operates around the clock, and includes a specialist international operation which allows the company to service blue chip clients around the world.

Ant has also developed an inhouse team to provide and manage digital marketing services.

In January, the company revealed that it had created Ant Digital.

The latest venture is advising clients about the potential to create products and services using the internet, email and text messages. In recent years, the company has invested in hi-tech facilities in a bid to compete head-on with the services provided by overseas call centres.

In 2007, Sheffield City Council’s planning committee approved the company’s application to build a call centre in the Sheaf Quay, the flagship headquarters, which created 400 jobs.

Last week, Clive Burnham, Ant Marketing’s account director met students who are working towards a Level 1 call centre qualification in Sheffield.

He toured The Source training centre near Meadowhall and told students that telemarketing opens up a “superb career path”.

He added: “Such students are the future of our industry and it was wonderful to see such eagerness for the great opportunities in our sector.”

Helping young entrepreneurs

SHEFFIELD-based Ant Marketing is a major provider of telesales, telemarketing and other customer services for businesses and consumers.

According to its website, Ant’s business model is supported by a number of key principles, which include listening to customers, focusing on operational efficiency and ensuring the company is up to date with regulatory requirements.

Anthony Hinchliffe, the firm’s managing director, also provides support for young entrepreneurs, by providing free office space to winners of the Big Idea competition which aims to find the top entrepreneurs of the future.