Catherine O’Kelly has been announced as the incoming new managing director of British Gas Energy. Returning from maternity leave, she will take up the post next month, when Peter Simon steps down after three years.
O’Kelly joined Centrica in 2011, and has advanced through positions of increasing seniority. She will re-join the group’s UK operations following two years leading Bord Gáis Energy in Ireland.
“We have a solid foundation to build on, and I am excited by how we are working to serve our customers differently and more simply,” O’Kelly said.
Chris O’Shea, Centrica’s chief executive, said: “I firmly believe Catherine will build on the early progress we have made in turning around British Gas Energy. As a leader, she combines great customer focus and commercial experience with a genuine passion for engaging and developing her teams”.
O’Kelly’s leadership away in Dublin has coincided with turbulent times for the group in the UK. British Gas Energy has shrunk to 6.8 million domestic accounts, according to half year financials released in July, and customer complaints are on the rise.
Four entire layers have been trimmed out of Centrica’s labyrinthine management structure, and the last of 4,000 jobs to be shed will disappear this year.
This spring the 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 have accepted the new offer.