The energy giant npower is to cut up to 4,500 jobs as part of a major cost-cutting drive that could result in it closing most of its sites in the UK.
The company said the two-year restructuring plan will cost £500m and by 2022 will produce £100m in profits for npower’s German owner, E.ON.
Unions described the shake-up as a “cruel blow” to staff coming in the run-up to Christmas.
“This is a cruel blow for npower employees,” said Dave Prentis, the general secretary of Unison. “They’ve been worried about their jobs for months. Now their worst fears have been realised, less than a month before Christmas.”
The company said the proposals related to making cost savings across its IT infrastructure and customer service operations, which will mean the closure or cutting back of call centres and staff.
“The UK market is currently particularly challenging,” said Johannes Teyssen, the chief executive of npower’s parent E.ON. “We’ve emphasised repeatedly that we’ll take all necessary action to return our business there to consistent profitability. For this purpose, we’ve put together proposals and already begun discussing them with British unions.”
The company claimed that in stepping up its “ambitious cost-cutting efforts” it is not “losing sight of customers”.