Ovo Energy to cut 2,600 jobs
Ovo has announced plans for 2,600 redundancies as the coronavirus lockdown accelerates SSE integration plans.
Ovo bought SSE’s retail decision for £500m four months ago, boosting its customer base from 1.5m to 5m homes and making it to the UK’s second biggest energy supplier.
Lockdown has accelerated the integration of the two businesses and driven more customer services online, permanently reduced the demand for some functions and roles.
Ovo said its workforce would mostly be reduced via voluntary redundancies over the course of 2020.
Employees have been informed of the changes and consultations will continue with the trade unions and employee representatives.
Prior to its acquisition by Ovo, SSE had already begun an offshoring programme with hundreds more roles due to follow. Ovo has agreed to suspend this additional round of planned offshoring activity in order to minimise UK job losses.
Even before the completion of the acquisition in early 2020, SSE had already begun to interact with more customers online.
Since the lockdown began, this journey has been accelerated, with more than 1 million online transactions in April alone. At the same time the company has seen a 69% drop in home service engineering work and a 92% reduction in smart meter installations. Meter reading activity has completely stopped since March.
Stephen Fitzpatrick, CEO and founder of OVO, says: “We have a brilliant team here and this news isn’t a reflection of anyone’s work. What should have been a much longer process to digitise the SSE business and integrate it with OVO has been accelerated due to the impact of the coronavirus.
“We are seeing a rapid increase in customers using digital channels to engage with us, and in our experience, once customers start to engage differently they do not go back. As a result, we are expecting a permanent reduction in demand for some roles, whilst other field-based roles are also heavily affected.
“There is never an easy time to announce redundancies and this is a particularly difficult decision to take. But like all businesses, we face a new reality and need to adapt quickly to enable us to better serve our customers and invest in a zero carbon future.”