British Gas lost nearly 400,000 customers in first half of 2016
British Gas lost nearly 400,000 customers in the first half of the year as many long-term contracts ended and thousands of consumers switched to other more affordable energy providers.
Profits at British Gas fell 7% in the first half of 2016, while the firm’s parent company Centrica reported a 12% decline in operating profit, down to £853 million and a 13% drop in total revenue down to £13.3 billion.
Centrica blamed a “competitive environment” and the expiration of long-term contracts for the 3%, or 399,000, decline in residential UK customers.
Analysts believe that while British Gas has benefited from cheaper wholesale energy prices, it has failed to pass on the savings to consumers.
Claire Osborne, energy analyst at uSwitch.com, said: “British Gas is the only major supplier to have made three cuts to standard gas prices since the start of last year, so its standard variable tariff is the lowest among the big six.”
“However, its best deal is still almost £290 a year more than the cheapest on the market so customers are likely to find better savings by switching to other providers,” she added.
“Energy suppliers big and small continue to eat away at British Gas’s market share. The only way that British Gas can start to win back customers is by launching new, competitive deals.”
Centrica’s chief executive, Iain Conn, said the first half of 2016 had been demanding, but he remains confident about the future of the company in Britain.
“Market conditions remain competitive for UK Home, with falling gas and power prices supporting the growth of new suppliers, historically high levels of energy supplier switching, and changing customer demand for services,’ the group said in a statement.
“Against this backdrop, our focus remains on improving customer service, developing innovative solutions and reducing costs.”