Centrica on recovery trail, as O’Shea steadies ship


Britain’s biggest energy  business continued its recovery from a challenging couple of years.  In half year financials released today, Centrica stressed simplification, rationalisation and modernisation.

Improving its customer handling, restructuring its leviathan-like structure by cutting out four operational levels, and protecting colleagues and customers, were chief executive Chris O’Shea’s watchwords. 

Slimming down was reflected in the $3.6bn sale of Direct Energy in January, and the company’s 69% interest in oil and gas explorers Spirit being prepped for sale.

After 3,000 jobs were culled last year, a further 1,000 will disappear in 2021.  his spring the group’s British Gas core attracted workforce opprobrium for sacking front-line staff and re-hiring thousands on reduced terms.  The company claims 98% of its staff accepted the new offer.

Group headline numbers were ‘broadly as we expected’, said O’Shea. Adjusted operating profit from continuing operations was only £2 million lower at £262m.  

Domestic accounts drifted 2% down to 6.8 m. Customer complaints rose from 2.8% to 4% of all customer contacts.  

Within British Gas Energy, the company now utilises a new low-cost ‘software as a service’ IT platform I order to compete more effectively with challenger brands. Using the two systems in parallel will impose extra costs, the company warned 

In the first half of 2021 the group completed the sales of non-core assets including Peterborough’s two gas-fired power stations, the data management business Io-Tahoe, and the site of the previous British Gas headquarters in Staines. The total proceeds for these sales will total approximately £50m.

Markets were indifferent to Centrica’s first half numbers. The shares were unchanged at 15:30 hours. 


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