Business water switches hit 36,000

Just 1.4 per cent of business water supply points have switched so far

A total of 36,301 supply points have switched water retailer since the business market opened. This represents just 1.4 per cent of the 2.6 million supply points that make up the market.

Market Operator Services Limited (MOSL) has today released switching figures for the first quarter of 2017/18.

Of the switches that have taken place so far, around 35 per cent more have been for sewerage than water supply. The market operator said this was largely due to previously water-only retailers acquiring the associated sewerage service for the supply point.

Source: Market Operator Services Limited, CEO quarterly market review, 03/08/2017, market charts

The largest retailers in the market have seen both gains and losses, although on average these do not exceed more than 2 per cent of their market share. Meanwhile, new entrant retailers have gained oaround 15,000 supply points during the first three months, representing around 40 per cent of total switches. Some retailers are yet to gain or lose a supply point.

Castle Water has suffered the biggest loss, shedding just over 10,000 supply points. The company gained around 3,000 in the same period. And Water Plus has lost just under 8,000 supply points, and gained just over 6,000.

Other retailers, such as SES Business Water, Source for Business (Pennon Water Services), SSWB and Anglian Water Business gained more supply points than they lost.

New entrant Everflow has made significant gains of just over 4,000 supply points. In April, the retailer announced that it had won contracts to supply retail services to Newcastle United FC and Europcar.

Meanwhile, Yorkshire Water lost just over 3,000 and gained none, although Three Sixty gained 7. Yorkshire recently confirmed its intention to exit the market and sell off its business customer base.

Source: Market Operator Services Limited, CEO quarterly market review, 03/08/2017, market charts

The rate of switching has fluctuated between 1,000 to 2,000 switches a week, excluding the pre-processed switching that took place on the first day of the market. There have been a couple of significant spikes in switching levels during June, which was due to switching of several large multi-site customers.

Source: Market Operator Services Limited, CEO quarterly market review, 03/08/2017, market charts

At the end of the first quarter, there were 25 wholesalers and 35 retailers in the market, of which 22 were national, 12 were regional and one was a self-supply retailer.

Commenting on the figures, MOSL chief executive Chris Scoggins said: “It is still early days in this nascent market. Nonetheless, we have seen some encouraging developments. Three months into the new market we have 35 retailers – national, regional and self-supply – including 10 new entrants.

“More than 36,000 water or wastewater services have been switched, and we have seen customers of all sizes taking advantage of the opportunity to switch supplier. This number does not include new contracts negotiated between customers and their existing suppliers.”

Ofwat chief executive Cathryn Ross pointed out that around 60 per cent of switches have come from low-water-users, which she suggested are more likely to be SMEs. “That is significant,” she said, “because we want to make sure this market works for all customers, not just the very large companies with specialist procurement divisions. In addition to those who have switched, we have heard that many others have agreed new deals with their current retailer.”

However, she added, “more can be done”. “Comparing offers is still not as easy as it needs to be and we have told retailers they must remedy this. We will continue to monitor the market closely to make sure it works for all and continue to meet and listen to customers, whose views will shape our work.”