Chief executive Iain Conn remained upbeat as British Gas owner Centrica has filed its quarterly results. Updating shareholders ahead of the company’s AGM, he said: “2018 has begun well and overall financial performance in the year to date has been good, despite high competitive intensity in all our markets.”

But the update also confirmed that shares have slipped by 23 per cent over the past year.

The company said its services division had been under unprecedented pressure during the bad weather caused by the Beast from the East in February and March, which increased energy demand, but also caused a record number of boiler breakdowns (145,000 in one week – its busiest ever seven-day period).

It said this would result in lower first half adjusted operating profit compared to the same period a year ago. But despite this, the firm said it remained on track to achieve its 2018 targets. Adjusted operating cash flow is expected to be in the range £2.1 billion to £2.3 billion.

In the first quarter 110,000 UK energy supply accounts were lost, which it said was a reflection of “market switching trends”. This was a slower rate of decline relative to the average of 2017. It also lost 28,000 in North America in the same period.

The firm said it expects customers on standard variable tariffs (SVTs) to fall to around three million by the end of 2018 (down from the current 3.8 million).

Meanwhile in its connected home division it added 91,000 customers in the first four months of the year, and said it expected to reach 1 million customers in total this week, supported by a series of new products and integrations.

The update concluded that overall financial performance had been good in the year to date.

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