Seeboard to axe another 600 jobs

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The Independent Online
SEEBOARD, the electricity supplier to the south-east of England, is to cut up to 600 jobs - around 10 per cent of its workforce - over the coming year. The job losses follow staff reductions of 400 over the past 18 months.

They result from a restructuring of Seeboard's operations into three main business divisions and the transfer of the head office in Sussex from Hove to Crawley.

The distribution division will be based at Crawley while supply, including Seeboard's gas supply company, will continue to operate from Hove. The third operation encompasses retailing, electrical contracting and other activities including managing a property portfolio.

Jim Ellis, Seeboard's chief executive, said that the job losses would not be the last as the company continued to drive down costs. 'I want to be in a strong position when competition is introduced,' he said.

At present the regional companies have a monopoly over all but the largest electricity customers in their franchise areas. However, this monopoly will be reduced next year to allow more businesses to shop around for power. The Government then plans to remove the monopoly in 1998. Mr Ellis said: 'Not all customers, but a lot of them, will simply go for the lowest price.'

Seeboard's reorganisation is also intended to prepare the company for a review of the formulae governing increases in electricity prices. Offer, the industry regulator, is preparing a review with a view to introducing new price controls in April 1994.

Other regional electricity companies are expected to announce restructuring moves soon. Eastern Electricity set the ball rolling at the end of last year when it introduced an early retirement programme.