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British Gas owner to cut 700 management and back-office jobs

Edmund Heaphy
Finance and news reporter
A British Gas thermostat. Owner Centrica said it was planning to cut 700 office jobs. Pic: PA

Centrica (CNA.L), the owner of British Gas, said on Wednesday that it was planning to cut around 700 management and back-office jobs in response to the “growing challenges” that it faces.

They will come as part of previously announced reductions, the company said.

In February 2018, the company, which also supplies energy in North America and Ireland, announced that it would cut around 4,000 jobs worldwide, with the majority of the losses falling within its UK energy supply business.

That announcement came right after it revealed a slump in earnings, with profits in the group falling 17% — to £1.25bn — in 2017.

More than 2,200 employees lost their jobs in 2018, and it detailed a further 500 job cuts in April 2019.

A spokesperson for Centrica said that it will discuss the proposed job cuts with employees over the next 45 days.

The company had already said in February 2019 that it expected “to complete the efficiencies” by the end of the year.

GMB Union condemned Wednesday’s announcement, saying that British Gas “cannot just cut its way out of a crisis by slashing jobs.”

“Centrica’s still falling share price tells you everything you need to know about the state of the company and how it has been run over the past few years,” it said in a statement.

Shares in the company, which have declined 33% since the beginning of the year, fell 0.83% on Wednesday.

In 2018, its most recent financial year, Centrica reported a 12% rise in operating profits, to £1.39bn. But it described its performance as “mixed” and warned that its 2019 profits would be hit by the new energy price cap.

Energy regulator Ofgem on 1 January introduced an energy cap for consumers in England, Scotland, and Wales, which limits the cost of each unit of energy that they pay.

While some 11 million people are expected to save around £76 a year, Centrica in December mounted a legal challenge against the cap, arguing that it had not been calculated fairly.

“This difficult decision was made because we need to respond to the growing challenges we face,” Centrica said on Wednesday.

“The energy market is going through continued rapid change, competition is fierce, our energy customers are leaving us and we’re operating under a price cap.”