Thursday, 17 November 2011

Centrica warns as households, businesses retrench

British Gas owner Centrica issued a profit warning, saying customers were shopping elsewhere following price hikes and using less electricity and gas due to economic uncertainty and warmer weather.

The utility, whose British Gas unit is the UK's biggest household energy supplier, said customer churn had risen since it raised prices by as much as 18 percent and that account numbers had dipped since the start of the year to 15.9 million.

The drop in account numbers, which one analyst put at close to 100,000, was also due partly to Centrica ending doorstep sales in response to pressure from consumer groups.

Following the latest round of price hikes by Britain's six dominant energy suppliers, gas prices are rising by an average of 15 percent this winter, just as austerity measures aimed at cutting government debt curb economic growth and reduce household incomes.

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