CUSTOMER contact centre, Spark Response, plans to create 70 jobs at a new site in Sunderland.

The company, which already has operations in Gateshead, handles customer service for blue chip clients, including B&Q and Powergen.

The new sales positions will be created in January in premises at Doxford Park.

More jobs could follow as the business develops. The new jobs follow a steady flow of account gains for the company in recent months, which have included the US mail order travel firm, Travelsmith and financial service company Royal London.

Geoff Thompson, managing director at Spark, said: "We are pleased to be able to create 70 new positions. It is not only a real boost for the region, but is indicative of our current success.

"Although the call centre industry continues to grow, some operators in the region are feeling the impact of the nationwide slowdown and are having to review their staffing requirements.

"As a multi-channel contact operator we are able to meet all the customer service needs of our clients, be it online or traditional call centre work.

"As companies tighten their belts, with the threat of the pending recession, this is advantageous as it is more cost- effective outsourcing work to one partner as opposed to a number."

Spark has a turnover approaching £15m and will employ more than 500 staff at its Gateshead and Sunderland sites.

The new jobs coincide with a North-East call centre recruitment fair, held in Newcastle Telewest Arena today . Staff from Spark Response will be on hand to offer careers advice at stand one.