A CALL centre has laid off 120 workers just weeks before Christmas.

Staff at Converso, based in Thamesgate House, in Victoria Avenue, Southend, have reportedly been made redundant after increasing amounts of work was outsourced to India.

It comes just years after the firm, which was worked for big names including BP, Porsche and TomTom, announced it was expanding after winning a lucrative contract.

One shocked worker, who did not want to be named, said: “We’ve all lost our jobs right before Christmas. We’ve all been made redundant.

“I’ve got six years’ redundancy pay and I expect to find another job quite quickly so I’m not bitter but some people are devastated. It’s terrible.”

The 34-year-old, from Southend, added: “We didn’t know it was coming but we had heard some whispers.

“Converso changed a few years ago from a UK-based call centre. A lot of work was being outsourced to India.

“We lost a big contract two years ago and I think the writing was on the wall then. It’s just the timing of the job losses.”

The company was set up in 1997.

One hundred new recruits hired in 2014 worked on detailed phone-based market surveys on a range of social issues across the whole of the UK.

Yesterday the company’s website was unavailable, with an online message saying it was “permanently closed”.

A woman who answered the phone told the Echo the business was no longer Converso, but declined to comment further.

Ann Holland, councillor responsible for culture, tourism and the economy, said: “I’m very sorry to hear this. My thoughts are with the employees who have lost their jobs and their families.

“I hope they find more employment quickly. I’m sorry this has happened at this time of the year.

“It’s the first bit of bad news the town has had for some time.”

David Burch, from Essex Chambers of Commerce, said the job losses were disappointing.

He said: “We don’t like to hear about people being made redundant in the run up to Christmas and our sympathies go out to all the staff affected.

“I would urge affected employees to see what’s on offer in other local businesses and the job centre and to try to stay positive.”