August 31, 2016
There is a new trend emerging in the energy industry, as the UK's "Big Six" Energy Suppliers start to claw back customers from their smaller rivals.
Figures from trade group EnergyUK show that the percentage of switchers moving from a large to a small supplier fell in June to the lowest numbers since March 2015. It's thought that independent suppliers are struggling to cope with more than 20% recovery in prices for winter since April.
With commodity prices bouncing back, the discount that smaller supplier can offer against the bigger suppliers is shrinking and several small suppliers have now put their energy prices up to cover their wholesale costs.
In 2015, wholesale energy prices dropped as much as 30% and small energy suppliers took advantage of this as they were able to slash tariffs. Large suppliers typically buy a few years ahead, locking in prices over a longer period, meaning they can't cut average prices as quickly.
As a result, data from EnergyUK showed that customers rushed to find better-priced deals. In March 2016 a record 206,419 customers switched from a large to a small supplier. A trend that has started to reverse.
In July, RWE won more than 200,000 new British customers, returning its customer base to end-2015 levels. SSE, the UK's second-biggest supplier reduced customers to 50,000 between March and June, from 90,000 lost over the same period last year.
Analyst at Morgan Stanley have a warning for smaller suppliers:
"Over the next few years, after the recent increase in commodity prices, the prevailing conditions may not be so helpful. We expect the independent suppliers to be a lasting phenomenon, but we suspect that it may get tougher for them to continue taking market share as they have done since 2013".
The bank added that small suppliers have also been exempt from many of the environmental charges levied against the largest suppliers in the market, and have avoided the billing issues suffered by suppliers including Npower and Scottish Power.
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Posted on August 31, 2016 at 12:42 PM