Thousands of jobs to go at Centrica amid fears over energy market

British Gas owner Centrica will cut 4,000 jobs over two years as profits plunge after losing 75,000 customers

Centrica has previously announced thousands of jobs losses as part of a drive to cut annual operating costs by £750 million between 2015 and 2020.

British Gas owner Centrica has blamed political intervention and the loss of energy customers in the United Kingdom for helping push annual profits down 17%.

Centrica which owns British Gas was forced to cut jobs after British energy companies were hit by tough competition and warmer-than-expected weather affecting demand

It compounded pain caused by a drop in its North American business unit, resulting in a 17% fall in group adjusted operating profits to £1.25 billion, although on a statutory basis, operating profits plunged 80% to £486 million.

Centrica, which lost a total of 1.4 million customer accounts previous year, is also looking to sell its stake in Britain's nuclear power stations by 2020. The firm targets savings of £1.25bn in total and said like for like headcount will decrease by 4,000. It lost 23% of its I&C customer base and 5% of SME customers. Its market share is also shrinking because of new competition from smaller suppliers.

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However, he also attributed some job losses to the pending price cap on energy tariffs, although he refused to quantify the impact.

But axing 4,000 jobs, at least 2,000 in the United Kingdom, seems an increasingly desperate move to achieve such savings, and shore up investor confidence in future dividends. "We're not in a blame game here".

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The government's price cap will affect millions of British Gas customers by the end of this year, which Conn admitted would dent profit margins. Conn said it moved 700,000 customers from its SVT onto fixed price deals previous year and will do the same for another 1.3 million customers in 2018, putting the supplier in a good position to cope with the price cap.

"CEO Iain Conn will point to progress in his repositioning of the company: more customers buying services to use energy more effectively, a shift in the company's focus from finding gas or generating electricity to serving customers and finding efficiencies that cut costs by 10%". "We hope it doesn't happen because we think that ultimately it will be bad for customers". Conn said the group is looking at the possibility of selling to infrastructure funds, given the limited pool of potential buyers within the nuclear sector itself.

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