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British Gas to Launch Cheaper, Digital-Only Energy Brand

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The UK’s largest energy supplier is hoping to woo back customers with a cut-rate, digital-only brand.

The challenger brand, currently known as British Gas X, hopes to compete with the dozens of low-cost energy suppliers which have cropped up over the last decade—and lured millions of customers away from energy institution British Gas.

British Gas X is designed for “digitally savvy” customers, with everything from meter readings to bills done exclusively online. It also promises customers any energy they consume will be “offset” from renewable sources (which isn’t the same thing as providing renewable energy) and that they can "switch at any time with no exit fees.”

The new brand won’t compete directly with British Gas’s main brand, which will remain as a “premium” service, packaged with other British Gas energy services including boiler insurance and repairs. However parent company Centrica hopes it will keep customers from switching away and even win back some who have departed.

The launch of British Gas X is part of a wider transformation of Centrica, which lost its place in the FTSE 100 last month over mounting customer losses and the tumbling price of oil and gas.

Centrica announced earlier this month that it will cull 5,000 jobs, primarily management roles, in a bid to modernise operations and save money. The job losses are part of a wider restructuring, launched in 2015, that has already seen the energy giant slash 12,500 positions to save £2.2 billion by 2022. The firm currently employs 27,000 people, 20,000 of them within the UK.

The firm lost £1.1 billion in 2019. Profits were down at subsidiary British Gas were down by 71%, following the departure of 286,000 energy supply customers across the year. 

Centrica blamed the energy price cap, implemented last January, for the losses. It claims the cap, intended to protect customers from rip-off tariffs, cost British Gas £300 million last year alone.

The announcement of the new challenger brand did little to reassure investors: Centrica's share price dipped 3.5% yesterday.

Lauren Smith
Lauren Smith

Lauren Smith has worked as a journalist and copywriter for most of the last decade, covering technology, energy, and consumer rights, in the US and UK.

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