Business Irish

Sunday 22 July 2018

Cold weather boosts Bord Gáis owner as power demand up

Irish Defence Forces cadets take part in the clean-up after the 'Beast from the East' (Niall Carson/PA)
Irish Defence Forces cadets take part in the clean-up after the 'Beast from the East' (Niall Carson/PA)
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Bord Gáis Energy owner Centrica said its overall performance so far this year has been boosted by colder than normal weather that raised power demand.

But the group warned that intense competition persists as it lost 62,000 consumer accounts in the first four months of the year across all its markets.

"High levels of competitive intensity continue in our core markets, however net consumer customer account losses in the year to date have slowed materially relative to the average of 2017," it noted ahead of its annual general meeting yesterday.

CEO Iain Conn said that the group is making "good progress" against cost-efficiency targets.

Centrica CEO Iain Conn. Photo: Bloomberg
Centrica CEO Iain Conn. Photo: Bloomberg

He also noted that while the outcome of regulations to impose a temporary cap on all default energy tariffs in the UK remains uncertain, the company has continued to participate in the consultation process.

Centrica is assuming the tariff cap will be in place by the end of the year.

"We continue to believe that price controls in competitive energy markets are not good for customers," the group added.

Mr Conn said that Centrica's focus "remains on performance delivery and financial discipline and we remain on track to achieve our 2018 group targets".

In February, Mr Conn announced that Centrica would 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.

The firm has previously described its group performance during 2017 as "weak", when it was weighed down by its operations in the US and UK.

Its adjusted operating profit slumped 17pc to £1.25bn (€1.4bn) last year, while revenue edged 3pc higher to £28bn (€31.7bn).

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.

The group confirmed yesterday that it lost 62,000 consumer accounts in the first four months of 2018.

Energy supply accounts tumbled by 110,000 in the UK, which Centrica said was largely due to switching trends.

The company has almost 13m energy supply accounts in the UK.

"Account holdings in Ireland, UK services and North America services were broadly stable," it added.

Among the new competitors in the UK power market is the ESB, which has tentatively stuck its toe in the consumer energy business there. It's pitched itself as a "value energy supplier".

"Our pledge, very simply, is to be the most innovative, responsible and easy to deal with energy supplier in Great Britain," it tells customers.

Irish Independent

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