Barclays announced last night that another 1,000 jobs are to be created at a thriving North-East business park - then dropped a broad hint that more may be on the way.

The new posts, at the bank's centre on Sunderland's Doxford International Business Park, are the latest addition to the region's booming call centre industry.

Barclays currently employs 1,400 at the centre and recruitment of the extra staff will take place over the next 12 months.

By the end of next year, nearly 2,500 staff will be employed and bosses will monitor customer demand before deciding whether further expansion is needed.

Some of the new jobs will be shared and mainly involve handling queries from customers using Barclays' telephone banking services.

A spokeswoman for the firm said last night: "When we opened the centre back in January last year we thought we would employ 2,000 people.

"But the service has become so popular we are doing everything we can to make sure we have enough people manning the phones.

"We have two buildings at Doxford and we are going to be using them to full capacity."

On the question of further jobs to come, the spokeswoman said: "We will be monitoring customer demand to make sure we are planning ahead properly.

"We have got really good premises in the North-East and we are pleased to be able to invite the people of the region to come and work for us."

The news was widely welcomed on Wearside, where the workforce has become increasingly reliant on call centre jobs since the decline of heavy industries.

The closure of Grove Cranes in 1998 cost the city 670 jobs, Vaux Breweries shut in 1999 with the loss of 430 jobs.

Tom Hurst, principal economic development officer for Sunderland City Council, said: "When the council did the deal with Barclays to locate their new centre at Doxford Park, it was always envisaged that at least 1,000 jobs would be created.

"But the city council had absolute confidence that Barclays would ultimately create more than 2,000 new jobs.

"We are delighted that Barclays has shown its commitment to both the people and the city in general."

Dr John Bridge, chairman of regional development agency One NorthEast, said: "There is a huge growth in call centre jobs and the most critical things they provide are computer literacy and communication skills.