Katie Bickerstaffe has been named as the new executive chair of SSE Energy Services, with a mandate to deliver a new future outside the main group.

Speculation has been mounting about the future of SSE’s retail arm since the proposed merger with Npower collapsed last year, but the company’s latest set of financial figures, which have been posted today (22 May) reveal Bickerstaffe has been appointed to “continue progress towards a listing or new, alternative ownership by the second half of 2020”.

SSE’s financial results for the year ending 31 March also show profits at SSE Energy Services fell from £278.7 million to £89.6 million due to a challenging price cap and lower customer numbers.

According to the results, Bickerstaffe will take up her new role on 23 June, alongside Gordon Boyd, who is joining the retail arm as interim chief financial officer.

She will form a new, dedicated SSE Energy Services Board, which is expected to have both executive and non-executive representation from the SSE group, as well as an independent non-executive director.

In April, Utility Week reported that SSE Group is being advised by Katie Bickerstaffe on the future options of its retail arm after the proposed merger with Npower was called off.

Bickerstaffe was announced as chief executive designate for the new retailer, which would have created the UK’s second largest energy supplier, behind British Gas, had the deal with Innogy’s Npower gone ahead.

“This is a business with huge potential,” said Bickerstaffe. “With a strong customer service track record, a unique product mix and a great team in place, it has all the raw materials to overcome the challenges facing the sector.

“The steps being taken to increase the independence and autonomy of the business will, in the short term, enable it to strengthen its focus on customers, respond with greater agility in a fast-moving market, and deliver the progress that will underpin a future outside the SSE group,” she added.

“The leadership team is clearly committed to its plan to turn this business around to unlock its potential for customers, employees and shareholders, and I believe it is well positioned to meet the evolving needs of customers as the energy sector transitions to a smarter, cleaner future.”

The chief executive of SSE, Alistair Phillips-Davies, added: “The steps we’re now taking through Katie’s appointment, the creation of a new dedicated board and a potential deal for provision of independent collateral and trading facilities mean SSE Energy Services could operate on a standalone basis and will therefore be well prepared for a future outside the SSE group.

“We will continue to take account of the interests of customers, employees and shareholders as we seek to deliver that future.”

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