ScottishPower quits electrical stores with loss of 1,350 jobs

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The Independent Online

Scottishpower, the utility giant, is closing half of its 156 electrical retail stores and is in talks to sell the rest to Powerhouse Retail, an independent electrical retailer. The withdrawal from the retail business will mean job losses for at least half of the 2,700 employees of ScottishPower Retailer.

Most of the stores, which sell electrical goods, are based in Scotland. "If the deal goes ahead, at least half of the jobs will be saved," said a spokesman for ScottishPower, Britain's biggest electricity company. He added that the deal will be closed "in the immediate future". Neither party disclosed what price the stores would fetch.

The disposal of the loss-making retailer is part of ScottishPower's move to focus on its core energy business. The spokesman said the group had spent the last 12 months reviewing how best to preserve its retail business, which operates in an "increasingly difficult market", and had decided the only option was to put it up for sale.

Powerhouse Retail, which is based in Bicester, Oxfordshire, has 120 stores across England and employs 1,500 people. It wants to acquire ScottishPower Retail to expand its presence north of the border. Sales at Powerhouse Retail topped £160m last year.

ScottishPower is also looking to sell or restructure Southern Water, another of its subsidiaries. The move is part of the restructuring plans announced by the utility last month when it posted a 15 per cent fall in full-year pre-tax profits before exceptionals to £628m. Its shares closed down 7p at 528p.