Financial News

  • 18 July 2014, 11:55

SSE Loses Customers Despite Price Freeze

The country's second-largest energy provider has lost 100,000 customers in just three months despite a price freeze commitment to maintain loyalty.

The company said gas and electricity account holder numbers in the UK and Ireland fell to 8.99 million from 9.1 million in the three months to June 30 - the month when the Competition & Markets Authority confirmed it was investigating the household energy market.

SSE, which welcomed the probe as an opportunity to address the public's mistrust of the sector, said ahead of its AGMon Thursday that the market was "very competitive" at the moment.

In the wake of controversial price increases and fierce debate on profits, the so-called 'Big Six' firms have been witnessing a customer shift towards smaller independent suppliers - often able to offer lower tariffs because they do not produce their own energy and face lower environmental and investment costs.

The drift from SSEwas confirmed just days after the energy ombudsman announced it had dealt with a record number of complaints about the Big Six in the first half of the year, though SSEcame out best with just 34.1 customers in every 100,000 filing a gripe.

nPower's figure rose to 592 per 100,000 customers as it continued to deal with the fallout from disastrous changes to its billing system.

SSE had hoped to win plaudits for its 2016 price freeze pledge and promise to clarify the murky world of energy profits by separating its supply business from electricity generation.

The company said it remained on track to deliver earnings at the same level or slightly higher than last year.

Chief executive AlistairPhillips-Davies said: "Although market conditions are challenging, we are on course to give shareholders a return on their investment through a dividend increase that at least keeps pace with inflation."

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