Profits edge up 2% at SSE despite annual loss of 200,000 energy customers

Preliminary pre-tax profits at Perth-based utility SSE rose 2.1% (to £1,546 billion) in the year ending March 2017 compared to last year.

But the’ Big Six’ energy provider continues to haemorhage customers – around 200,000 over the year – as domestic gas and electricity consumers continue to switch to cheaper rivals.

And the company warned that profits from its Networks businesses, including SGN, are expected to be around £150 million lower in 2017-18 compared with 2016- 17 – or £100 million on a like for like basis before including the impact of the SGN divestment.

In its Wholesale division, operating profits of £514.6 million rose 16.3% from last year’s £442.5 million – due to improved financial performance in thermal generation and Energy Portfolio Management and despite lower renewable energy output;

In its Networks  division operating profit was up 1.1% to £936.5 million from last year’s £926.6 million – due to an increase in Electricity Distribution offsetting reductions in operating profits from Electricity Transmission and SGN

But profits in SSE Retail fell by 7.2% to £422.3 million from last year’s £455.2 million – due to increases in non-energy costs, the impact of the household gas tariff reduction in March 2016 and a fall customer numbers( to eight million at 31 March 2017).

Alistair Phillips-Davies, SSE Chief Executive, commented: “We have been clear for some time that 2017-18 presents challenges, and the need to engage constructively with the new UK government as it takes forward energy policy will be a key priority for the year ahead and beyond.”

Meanwhile, nearly one in three households want verbal support, through face-to-face or phone advice, on how to switch energy suppliers as price rises up to 18% on gas and electricity bills come into effect, according to a survey by the Money Expert energy comparison website.

Its nationwide study found 29% of households – the equivalent of 7.9 million customers – would welcome phone or face-to-face support to find the most competitive gas and electricity prices with around two million preferring face-to-face support.

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