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Octopus Energy eyes balanced earnings within a year

By August Graham, PA City Reporter

Challenger energy supplier Octopus will be “close to break-even” on parts of its balance sheet within a year, boss Greg Jackson has said.

The supplier said it had added more than 1.2 million customers since April 2018, a more than seven-fold increase.

It is now aiming to balance Ebitda (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation), a measure commonly used to valuate start-up companies.

“We expect our UK energy retail business to be close to break-even at the EBITDA level this year, significantly earlier than previously expected,” Mr Jackson said.

Speaking to the PA news agency as part of the company’s annual results, Mr Jackson added: “We’ll be there or thereabouts, and it’s driven by the investment we’ve made in technology.”

“As we scale, our costs keep coming down, and so our economics improve and our service improves.”

However, it will take more time before other measures further down the balance sheet, such as profit before tax, break even, as Octopus looks to continue its UK and international expansion. Pre-tax loss was £37.4 million in the financial year ending April 2019.

“We’re taking on a global market and we will keep investing to speed up our expansion to create technology which makes Green energy ever cheaper,” Mr Jackson said.

This could include acquisitions “when the opportunity comes up,” he added.

The business will next month start scaling up its operations in Australia, which were launched in May last year. It bought into the German market in September.

Mr Jackson said that the company will be eyeing expansion into around four or five new countries within the next 18 months, as it looks to reach 100 million households before the end of the decade – an ambitious target shared by other British energy suppliers.

Fellow challenger suppliers Ovo, Bulb and Octopus, who were all founded within the last 11 years, have recently started foreign expansion.

Together they can spread a British energy revolution globally, Mr Jackson said.

“The global energy market, just in advanced countries, is a two trillion dollar market. If British companies can start to really make a difference there, we’ll speed up decarbonisation. In a post-Brexit Britain, this is a potential real opportunity for us,” he said.

Octopus is mainly eyeing competitive markets, ahead of those countries where gas and electricity is provided by a national or local monopoly. The competitive markets are mainly in Europe, and pockets of Asia, Mr Jackson said.

Revenue at Octopus hit £460 million in financial year ending April 2019, results released on Saturday showed. It was a 260% increase on the year before. Revenue is forecast to reach £1.26 billion in the 2020 financial year.

Loss before tax was £37.4 million in the 12 months to April 2019, a major increase from £7.4 million the year before.