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British Gas owner Centrica loses another 107,000 energy customers

Edmund Heaphy
Finance and news reporter
British Gas is a subsidiary of Centrica. Photo: NurPhoto/Getty Images

British Gas owner Centrica (CNA.L) on Thursday said that it lost a further 107,000 customers from its struggling energy supply business in the four months to October, even as it told investors that the decline was “significantly lower” than it had been last year.

Centrica said it was still contending with “continued high levels of price competition and market switching”.

The firm’s energy supply business, like other “big six” electricity and gas providers, has been stumbling for several years in the face of younger upstart competitors and the newly introduced government energy price cap for 11 million homes.

But Centrica on Thursday sought to quell fears that the losses were affecting its overall consumer business.

Accounts in that division increased by 214,000 in the four months to October, driven mainly by a 136,000 increase in the UK alone.

It said that growth in its services and home solutions offerings more than offset the 107,000 reduction in energy supply accounts, noting that those losses were also lower than in the first six months of the year.

Centrica has been boosted by its boiler installation and repairs service, and also offers a range of household products, such as smart thermostats.

Upon announcing its half-year results in July, Centrica downgraded its revenue forecasts and instituted a 58% cut to its dividend alongside higher cost-savings targets and increased asset sales.

In a trading update on Thursday, Centrica CEO Iain Conn said the firm’s performance in the second half of the year had been “solid so far”, and that it remained “on track” to achieve its full-year operating cash and net debt targets.

“I am encouraged by further growth in customer accounts and the recovery of business energy supply margins in North America, while we also continue to drive material levels of efficiency and maintain capital discipline,” he said.

“Our focus remains on satisfying the changing needs of our customers, providing energy supply and its optimisation, and services and solutions to enable the transition to a lower carbon future.”