3.5 million SSE customers to switch to Ovo as Big Six energy firm sells retail business

SSE is selling its retail gas and electricity business to Ovo, which will take on all of the Big Six energy supplier’s 3.5 million customers.

The move will turn Ovo into the UK’s second-largest retail energy provider with around 5 million customers. Only British Gas, which supplies around 7 million households, is larger.

SSE said the sale will have no immediate impact on customers and it will “do all it can to ensure a smooth transition”. The firm’s 8,000 staff will also move across to Ovo when the deal goes through either late this year or early next year.

Ovo will keep the SSE brand under licence for a transitional period.

Independent provider Ovo, founded a decade ago, will more than triple its existing customer base after the acquisition. 

SSE cancelled its merger with npower last December, saying the impact of the government’s energy price cap as well as increasing competition had dimmed the prospects for the proposed combined company.

In May, SSE revealed plans to offload its energy services business after losing more than half a million customers in the year to March 2019.

SSE chief executive Alistair Phillips-Davies said on Friday that selling off the business is the best option for customers and staff.

“Ovo shares our relentless focus on customer service and has a bold vision for how technology can reshape the future of the industry,” he added.

Ovo has consistently been rated the best energy supplier by comparison site uSwitch. It has also sought to present itself as an environmentally friendly provider and has invested in developing home battery technology to allow consumers to store energy generated from renewable sources.

Stephen Fitzpatrick, founder and chief executive of Ovo, hailed the deal as a “significant moment for the energy industry”.

He said: “SSE and OVO are a great fit. They share our values on sustainability and serving customers.”

For SSE, the sale follows a challenging 12 months in which annual pre-tax profits plunged almost 40 per cent, partly due to the struggling retail business.

Energy regulator Ofgem also hit the company with a £700,000 fine in April for missing a target for installing gas smart meters in customers’ homes.

The deal with Ovo is subject to regulatory approvals which the two companies expect will take a number of months.


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