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British Gas poised to launch digital-only energy supplier

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22/06/2020
British Gas is preparing to launch a cheaper, online-only challenger energy supplier as part of a drive to cut costs and provide a more customer-focused model.

The energy giant’s parent company, Centrica, is already testing its ‘British Gas X’ brand which offers a dual fuel one-year fix as well as green energy.

But British Gas is expected to reveal more details on the new business as part of its interim results in July.

It comes after the group announced 5,000 jobs will be axed as it looks to make cost-savings as “the harsh reality is that we have lost over half of our earnings in recent years”, according to Centrica group chief executive, Chris O’Shea.

Will Owen, energy expert at Uswitch.com, said the traditional ‘Big Six’ suppliers have had years of low-cost rivals snapping at their heels, eating away at market share.

“It looks like British Gas is now preparing to take an ‘if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em’ approach’,” he said.

Owen added: “The potential launch of British Gas X is promising news for energy customers seeking the reassurance of big brand ownership with challenger-level pricing.

“This combination, if harnessed successfully, could well give British Gas the ammo it needs to hold onto its declining market share. A decision to roll out a new brand would provide British Gas with the freedom to act more proactively to market changes, especially if it enables it to ditch its older processes and legacy systems.”

However, he warns that the challenger brand in an already competitive market could spell bad news for the smaller suppliers currently struggling to make ends meet with wafer-thin margins.

“Cheap energy deals will become even more essential as we continue to tighten our belts amid the gloomy economic forecast. But there’s an opportunity here for British Gas to look at the example set by its market leading counterpart in the telecoms space, with BT-owned Plusnet showing how smaller suppliers can attract consumers by offering great customer service,” he said.

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