The owner of British Gas, Centrica, has announced that it will ‘arrest the decline’ of the company by cutting 5,000 jobs this year.
In February, the company attributed its £849m loss in 2019 to falling gas prices and the energy price cap. The loss was in stark contrast to the £987m profit the company had made the year before.
Recently, rivals have been snapping up Centrica’s customers, but the company said that the current COVID-19 crisis had shown that they could be ‘agile and responsive’.
According to the new chief executive, Chris O’Shea, most of the job losses would be in the UK as the energy supplier looks to lean-out its operations.
Currently, almost 27,000 people are employed by the energy giant, with 20,000 of its employees based in the UK.
Around half of the redundancies will come from higher up in the company - including management and corporate staff. Over half of the company’s 40-strong senior leadership team will leave by the end of August.
Having previously been Centrica’s finance director, Chris O’Shea was made the chief executive in April of this year. O’Shea takes over from Iain Conn, who announced his intent to leave his role last summer.
"Since becoming chief executive almost three months ago, I've focused on navigating the company through the Covid-19 crisis and identifying what needs to change in Centrica," said O'Shea.
"We've learnt through the crisis that we can be agile and responsive in the most difficult conditions and put our customers at the heart of our decision making.
"I truly regret that these difficult decisions will have to be made and understand the impact on the colleagues who will leave us. However, the changes we are proposing to make are designed to arrest our decline, allow us to focus on our customers and create a sustainable company.”
The GMB union announced that it would "fight for every job". Justin Bowden, a spokesperson for the GMB, said: "A combination of the [energy price] cap and too little, too late management decisions have left a once proud brand crippled and weak. Slashing thousands more jobs is not the answer. You cannot just cut your way out of a crisis.”
Centrica also announced that it would be seeking to simplify terms and conditions for its UK employees as many of the agreements were over 35 years old with multiple iterations.
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