Wednesday 23 May 2018

Centrica upbeat as Bord Gáis profits dip

Centrica’s consumer activities are focused on the UK, North America and Ireland, where it has a total of 25 million customers
Centrica’s consumer activities are focused on the UK, North America and Ireland, where it has a total of 25 million customers
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Profits at Bord Gáis Energy fell 4pc to €54m last year, with its total customer account numbers dipping 2pc, or 13,000 to 679,000 during 2017.

But Bord Gáis' UK stock-market listed owner Centrica said that despite the declines, Bord Gáis performed well given market conditions, with a number of utilities now vying for business, especially among residential consumers.

Although total account numbers fell, Centrica said Bord Gáis attracted 7,000 more electricity account holders as it converted more customers to a dual fuel offering. Bord Gáis also owns a 445MW power station in Whitegate, Co Cork.

"Bord Gáis Energy performed well in 2017," said Centrica as it issued full-year results yesterday. Gross revenue at the Irish division climbed 6pc on a sterling basis last year to £827m (€935m).

Sterling weakened by 4pc against the euro between the end of December 2016 and the end of December 2017, resulting in a more favourable translation effect for Centrica's euro-denominated revenues.

Centrica's consumer activities are focused on the UK, North America and Ireland, where it has a total of 25 million customers. However, it is also involved in nuclear power generation, wholesale energy supply and oil and gas exploration.

Centrica noted that the impact of the more competitive environment in Ireland was "broadly offset" in 2017 by cost efficiencies and a "good performance" from its trading and power generation business here.

It added that the Whitegate station recorded an 85pc load factor in 2017 and generated a total of 3.2 gigawatts of power, up 3pc on 2016.

"We continue to focus on customer service, with increased training, robotics process automation and enhancements to our customer-facing IT platforms all contributing to an 18pc reduction in complaints," said Centrica in relation to the Irish arm.

"We also successfully upgraded our enterprise billing platform in the year, which will support increased digitisation over the coming years."

Centrica has also been pushing the rollout of its 'connected home' concept, called Hive.

Centrica said it remains focused on building brand awareness in Ireland of its connected home propositions.

The firm said its group performance during 2017 was "weak", weighed down by its operations in the US and UK. Its adjusted operating profit slumped 17pc to £1.25bn (€1.41bn), while revenue edged 3pc higher to £28bn (€31.6bn).

CEO Iain Conn said the group will axe 4,000 jobs, mainly in its UK energy supply business, as he attempts to remedy what he said was a "very poor shareholder experience" in 2017.

Irish Independent

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