500 jobs cut at Scottish Power cuts 500 jobs

Scottish Power cut 500 jobs in its core electricity business last year, leaving the workforce at 5,318. This compares with a payroll of 8,286 in 1991. The company said redundancy and severance payments totaled £10m in the year to March.The figure will likely be matched in each of the next two years.

Ian Robinson, chief executive, said Scottish Power is adding jobs in developing businesses, including retailing, gas supply and telecommunications.

Cost control and increased exports to England and Wales helped Scottish Power lift pre-tax profits 6.9 per cent to £375m. Earnings per share rose by 6.2 per cent to 33.58p and the dividend for the year is up 10.1 per cent to 13.65p. The company intends to seek permission at the annual general meeting to buy up to 10 per cent of its shares but says it has immediate plans.

Turnover in the year rose by £147m to £1.7bn in spite of a mild winter in Scotland. Exports grew by £41m and are on target to account for one third of total electricity sales by the end of the decade.

The company is seeking consent from the Government to upgrade the link to the electricity grid in England and Wales - the main constraint in increasing exports - but is meeting opposition from PowerGen and from Eastern Electricity. Mr Robinson said he is surprised at the "ill-directed" objections from other companies. "We have clearly stated our intention to sell more power to England and Wales. We are going to compete in the marketplace," he said.

Scottish Power is also hoping within the next few years to begin selling into Ireland through a subsea cable, although this is subject to planning permission.

Retail sales soared by 93 per cent to £199m following the £21.5m acquisition of 50 stores from Clydesdale in March 1994. Scottish Power has also agreed to buy six superstores from Manweb for £3m.

The company's Caledonian Gas subsidiary now supplies 6,000 industrial and commercial sites in the UK, an increase of 50 per cent compared with 12 months ago.