Centrica profits down 44%

Centrica, owner of British Gas, is blaming the government’s energy price cap for a 44% drop in profits for its consumer division in the first half of the year and the slashing of its dividend by more than half.

The news was even worse for its business division where profits fell by 89%. The firm blamed it on warm weather and outages at its nuclear power stations.

Stepping down

Announcing the figures, chief executive Iain Conn said he was stepping down from his post and retiring from the company’s board next year, saying: “We are finishing the journey to becoming a customer-facing energy and solution company.

Once we have done that, it is the right time for me to hand over to a successor – a natural moment.

“We have been shifting a company to one in tune with a lower carbon economy. We are bundling energy with services and we make money out of both. It’s early days, but I’m very encouraged by what’s happened in the first half of the year.”

Price cap

“The most difficult thing has been the price cap coming in. It cost British Gas £300m in profits this year.

All the current price cap has done is actually delayed the issues rather than solve them, and I’m hoping a new fresh look by this new government may make changes.

“It’s always been said that the price cap is going to be temporary and we look forward to the day when it’s rolled back.”

Last chance saloon

British Gas lost 742,000 customers last year and GMB union national secretary Justin Bowden said Mr Conn was leaving the company ‘in the last chance saloon’.

He added: “British Gas has to stop haemorrhaging customers and rewarding boardroom failure.

Blessed with a loyal workforce, a top-class brand and the biggest customer base in the country it now needs the right leadership and a properly implemented strategic vision.”

Partnership

There was one snippet of good news. British Gas has announced a partnership with Ford for the expansion of their range of electric vehicles.

Under a new deal it will; provide dedicated home charging installation services over the next five years with special tariffs to allow owners to benefit from overnight charging.