GLOBAL tech support firm Webhelp is pulling out of Greenock - sparking fears over the future for the 200-strong workforce.

It is understood the company, which has enjoyed a long-established presence in the town, will not renew its lease on the contact centre in Cartsburn.

Bosses have instead decide to move to a permanent structure of home working in the wake of the pandemic.

Their base in Holt Court has been lying abandoned after staff were moved out at the start of the first lockdown nearly two years ago.

Ward councillor Colin Jackson warns the decision to give up the building is a real blow, as it breaks the link with the town and its local workforce.

It also leaves another large office block to let in the area, with a growing trend towards flexible working since the pandemic.

Councillor Jackson said: "This is a real blow to the town.

"Once these firms break their link with Greenock, there will not be a local workforce.

"It won't come back.

"It really means job losses.

"This is a very worrying trend, we have already lost Concentrix in Gourock and now Webhelp are going.

"The last thing we need is hundreds of jobs leaving the town.

"These companies employ lots of people.

"Firms like Webhelp offered full-time, part-time and work for students.

"That will disappear."

At the start of the pandemic Webhelp, which is owned by global investment firm GBL, predicted that remote working would become the 'new normal'.

Their managing director and chief executive David Turner said there was a seismic shift towards home working.

Two years ago the Tele reported that a To Let sign had been put up on the building while negotiations on a new lease continued.

It is now understood Webhelp have formally informed owners Arranglen, the property firm of businessmen James and Sandy Easdale, that they no longer wish to continue with the lease when it is up in February.

Local letting agents Bowman Rebecchi have been instructed to market the Arthur Street property.