British energy retailers start to fight back

Would you rather work in banking or energy retail? Bit like being an estate agent in the 1980s. Easy targets for the press, the public and the Government. But there is a bit more to the stories when you scratch under the surface. Despite recent scandals, much good is done by banks and energy cos that is overlooked in the furores. It seems one company has had enough of the bad press.

Following a staunch defence of British Gas profits last week, in an article in The Daily Telegraph today, the CEO and chairman of SSE, one of the “big six” British energy companies, both argue that their company needs to make profits to “employ people, pay tax, provide services that customers need, make investments that keep the lights on and create jobs”.

My experience of retail energy suggests it focusses as hard on operational efficiency as any other industry I could name. Pricing is always a controversial topic as one imagines freezing cold pensioners on Christmas day contrasted with fat cat bosses sunning themselves on the Med. But the retailers are at the mercy of wholesale energy prices and, even if, as alleged, they had a hand in rigging the wholesale price, this hasn’t resulted in exceptional profits. I would prefer my pension fund to invest in non-energy stocks at the moment.

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