The improved performance came despite British Gas suffering a continued exodus of 114,000 customers as a combination of industrial action, Covid-hit customer service and competitors offering cut-price deals saw them flock to rival suppliers.
Centrica’s pre-tax profit of £907 million in the six months ended June 30, against a £462 million pre-tax loss in the same period last year, was driven by profits from British Gas Energy, its core domestic business, which rose 121% to £172 million.
Chief executive Chris O’Shea said the performance was “related to the exceptionally cold [weather] compared with an exceptionally warm first half of 2020”.
Residential customers of British Gas fell 2% from 6.91 million to 6.8 million during the period, but O’Shea predicted some rival discount suppliers were on the verge of collapse.
“There are some energy businesses in the UK that must be trading while insolvent. We will undoubtedly see more supplier failures,” he said.
Group revenue rose by 6% to £8.2 billion up from £7.7 billion a year ago.
The company said a restructuring was “on track”, after a 7% cut to its workforce to 19,711.
Net debt fell from £3 billion to £93 million following the sale of its North American Direct Energy business in January.