World leading e-commerce business, Ocado Group, has launched a recruitment drive that will see it create up to 300 new jobs in Sunderland.

The business is holding a series of “Get to Know Ocado” events in the city for people who have applied for roles, as it looks to fill the first 30 positions announced for contact centre advisors and managers.

The world’s largest dedicated online grocery retailer’, became the first business to take space at THE BEAM, a flagship 59,427sq ft building at the heart of Sunderland’s city centre, inking a 15-year deal to let the top two floors of the building on the former Vaux Brewery site.

Ocado Group is aiming to have its Sunderland operation up and running before the end of 2019 and plans to have people in post by November. The centre is an additional hub for the company, which has a similar set-up in Hatfield, and will support Ocado’s continued growth.

The “Get to know Ocado” days will be held in Sunderland on September 27 and 28 and October 17,18,19 and 20. The events, which are “invitation only” will include interviews with candidates, details of employee benefits and an overview of the company’s vision and values.

Successful candidates will be informed the week following the final event, with Ocado Group planning to have most in place between November 4 and 18.

The recruitment is being overseen by Ocado Group recruitment and attraction manager, Mark Jenkins, who will host the events with colleagues Debbie Wilson, head of service delivery support; Ocado Group contact centre manager, Stephen Lentz, and Sammie Balson, recruitment advisor.

Mark said: “The amazing welcome Ocado Group has been afforded by the people of Sunderland reaffirms our absolute confidence that the city will provide us with a friendly, professional and motivated workforce.

“The adverts for new roles, which will be based at THE BEAM, are already out there and we’re hopeful of attracting a wealth of talent. Ocado Group visited and reviewed a whole host of potential sites across the UK before we selected Sunderland for our new base, where we were bowled over by the fantastic amenities and the city’s reputation as one of the country’s leading customer service hubs.”

Sunderland City Council has supported Ocado Group since it visited the city last summer and has worked hand-in-hand with the company to ensure the required infrastructure is in place ahead of its move.

THE BEAM is part of a £500m city centre vision, with the wider city investment total standing at more than £1.5bn to 2030.  As well as the former Vaux Brewery site, the city council is planning major improvements to other parts of the city centre, as well as increased leisure facilities that will create an exciting place to live, work and visit.

Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, has backed the people of Sunderland to deliver for Ocado.

“We were absolutely delighted by Ocado Group’s decision to invest in THE BEAM and I am certain that we can repay the company’s commitment to the city by providing it with a motivated, enthusiastic workforce.

“We enjoy a fantastic relationship with Ocado Group and couldn’t be happier that we’ve attracted such an exceptional brand to our city centre. The job ads are out there now, and I would urge people to explore the potential of working for such a progressive, exciting business in the heart of a modern, rapidly developing city.”

Ocado was founded in 2000 and was listed on the stock exchange ten years later.  It is a FTSE 100 business, with sales of £1.6bn, and employs more 15,000 people across the group.  In February, it announced the creation of an online grocery retail joint venture with Marks & Spencer plc, one of the UK’s leading food and clothing retailers.  The new jobs will provide key customer service support to the JV, and this investment in a new facility in Sunderland is yet another milestone for the company.

The North East is home to some 145 contact centres, employing 40,000 people with brands including Barclays, EE, EDF Energy, Santander and Virgin and boasts staff attrition rates among the lowest in the UK.  The economic value of contact centres to Sunderland in salaries alone is circa £210m and, with the regional accent consistently rated amongst the most favourable when a consumer is contacting a UK call centre, Ocado Group – with a keen focus on customer experience – has chosen to add its name to the city’s portfolio.