UK home shopping firm Shop Direct Group is planning to close its Sunderland, Newtown and Burnley call centres with the possible loss of 1,500 jobs, amid declining telephone sales.

Shop Direct also intends to add up to 350 new roles at its remaining sites.

The company, which owns the Littlewoods and Woolworths brands, said customers have become "increasingly self-sufficient," preferring to buy online.

It said less than four years ago 33m calls were taken through its contact centres, compared to only 19m now, prompting this change in operational structure.

"Over the past five years, the proportion of our online sales has grown from 18% to account for over 60% of our business today resulting in excess capacity and space in our contact centres," said Mark Newton-Jones, chief executive of Shop Direct.

"We are a strong and growing business and we need to adapt to reflect the way our customers choose to shop with us."

The group aims to have at least 70% of its sales online by 2010/11.