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British Gas loses another 372,000 customers and says energy price cap will wipe £70m off profits

Shares in Centrica dropped almost 9 per cent as the group revealed further customer departures 

Caitlin Morrison
Thursday 22 November 2018 09:25 GMT
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Centrica CEO Iain Conn announces British Gas 3.8 per cent price increase

British Gas lost 372,000 customers in the third quarter of this year, after hiking bills twice in 2018, and owner Centrica warned that Ofgem’s proposed energy price cap will hit earnings.

Market watchdog Ofgem this month confirmed that it will apply a price cap to default tariffs from 1 January next year.

The cap has been set at £1,137 for a typical customer paying by direct debit, which the regulator says will save UK households a total of £1bn.

Centrica said on Thursday that it expects the price cap to “result in some negative near-term impact on earnings and cash flow, particularly in 2019”. It has forecast a £70m impact on profit during the first quarter of next year.

The group has 3.1 million customers on its default standard variable tariff, although that is down from 4.3 million at the beginning of this year, and is expected to fall below 3 million by the end of the year.

Iain Conn, Centrica group chief executive, said: "As we have done over the last four years, we are focused on driving significant underlying improvements in performance and delivering attractive returns while re-positioning the portfolio towards the customer.

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“Our efficiency delivery and new customer propositions are helping to offset the effects of strong competition and regulation in energy supply.”

The energy provider reported in July that 340,000 customers had departed in the first half of the year.

Shares in Centrica dropped 9 per cent in early trading.

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