Gas to cull showrooms

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The Independent Online
British Gas has confirmed plans to close almost half its 430 high street showrooms with the loss of 1,700 jobs, writes Mary Fagan.

The remaining outlets will concentrate on selling gas appliances. Gas customers who pay bills in the showrooms are in future likely to have to pay through post offices or by direct debit.

The staff reductions include 1,000 people employed in showrooms and a further 700 in clerical and administrative roles. They are part of previously announced plans to reduce the workforce by 25,000 over the next five years.

The changes are intended to help British Gas cut costs in the face of increased competition from other gas suppliers, including offshore producers and electricity companies. The reorganisation will also enable the company to comply with Government demands that it separate gas trading from the pipeline business, so that other gas suppliers can use the pipes on the same terms as British Gas.