Nova Scotia

Web.com in Yarmouth shutting down; 200 employees face uncertain future

Web.com’s customer service centre in Hebron Business Park will wind down operations in 2020 after operating in the town for 18 years.

Municipality searching for new employer to take over lease next year

Web.com employs 198 people in Yarmouth, N.S. (Robert Short/CBC)

Nearly 200 employees of Web.com in Yarmouth, N.S., are facing an uncertain future after the web design company announced it is shutting down its operations in the town after 18 years.

The Municipality of the District of Yarmouth said it was recently informed that Web.com's customer service centre in Hebron Business Park will cease operations by mid-2020. 

The centre employs 198 people.

"Everybody is disappointed and shocked, there's no question about that," said Victoria Brooks, chief administrative officer for the municipality.

Brooks said the municipality, which owns the building where Web.com is located, is searching for a tenant to take over the lease. Web.com's lease expires in July 2020.

But she said the main concern is the people who are impacted by the decision. The municipality is working with government representatives, the Western Regional Enterprise Network and Web.com to support the workforce.

Leads on new employer

"We're resilient, and that's been demonstrated by the way the community has been mobilized," she said.

"That's typical when we face issues in the fishery or forestry, that generally is the narrative: if this is our reality, how can we turn it into positive situation."

Brooks also said a collaborative effort between the municipality, Web.com, Nova Scotia Business Inc. and the provincial Business Department has already generated some leads on a new employer.

She said Web.com was recently purchased and the new owners have "made some decisions to leverage their global footprint, which has precipitated the change in operations in Yarmouth."

Company's business needs 'evolving'

Web.com declined a request from an interview. But in an email statement, the company said it serves millions of customers around the globe and "our business needs are continually evolving."

"With our recent acquisition and expanded global presence, we have made workforce changes across various locations to align our organization with these new capabilities," the statement said.

"We appreciate our employees' many contributions to serving our customers with excellence and we will be working closely with all levels of government and agencies to provide assistance to our employees."

Web.com — which provides a range of services including web design, web security and web marketing services — also has customer service centres in New Glasgow and Halifax.

Yarmouth Mayor Pam Mood said Web.com have been "wonderful corporate citizens" and the company has given back to the community over the years.

She recognized the situation bears similarities to what happened in Sydney, N.S., last year, when hundreds of call centre workers were laid off three weeks before Christmas. A new owner purchased the call centre soon after and many workers were rehired.

"That's the hope for this," said Mood. "You have to understand the very huge negative, but you have to quickly pivot to, 'OK, now what are we going to do?' And now we're in pivot mode right now."

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