The world’s largest competitive water market officially opened on Saturday (1 April), but the real first day of the market is today.
Twenty-two retailers are currently licensed to operate in the market – which is expected to deliver up to £200 million of benefits to the economy and water customers over the next 30 years. These include new entrants, incumbent retail arms, and one large business customer which has applied to supply its own retail services.
Here is what some of the retailers had to say about the biggest moment in the water industry’s history since privatisation.
Sue Amies-King, chief executive, Water Plus
“We are thrilled to be part of the opening of the largest competitive water market in the world and the biggest ever change in the sector. It’s been a huge and successful collaboration across the sector and this needs to continue so that we deliver an effective market for business customers to maintain their trust and confidence. Competition will deliver more choice, better service and product innovation for business customers across the UK, which will raise the bar for all market participants.”
Jacob Tompkins, chief technology officer, The Water Retail Company
“The opening of the retail market offers a chance for a step-change in business water efficiency. Our approach to the market is very simple, we will be totally transparent and work closely with customers, we will have a low cost to serve and a bespoke service that understands individual businesses water use. The Water Retail Company will use its water efficiency expertise combined with a use of new technology to optimise water use, reduce sewer discharges and reduce surface water drainage, this will bring down bills and benefit the environment.”
Charley Maher, managing director, water2business
“This is a major change for the water sector and we’re pleased that now the market is open, many more businesses will be able to benefit from our services. We’re in an excellent position to ensure that both existing and new customers receive a high standard of service – and that’s supported by a recent independent survey which showed that nine out of 10 of our customers rate us as ‘good’ or ‘very good’. While we’re not the largest retailer in the market, our employees are experts in their field and our proven track record for service and efficiency savings will reassure customers that they’re in safe hands.”
Helen Gillett, managing director, Affinity for Business
“In any market, the benefit of competition should always be that customers get the best product, value and service. As the water market opens, nothing will change about the ‘product’ – the water that businesses receive will remain the same, whichever retailer they choose. So, the real opportunity here is to deliver the best value and highest quality of customer service. For Affinity for Business, this has meant we are not just focusing on the price or mechanics of the market but also working hard to truly understand what our customers need in terms of service and reliability – and delivering on that.
“At the end of the day there is no rush to switch – but we think it’s great that businesses will now have the choice in who they pick, based on which provider suits them best and delivers the best service – and we are confident in our ability to compete.”
Graham Mann, director of operations, The Alternative Water Company
“The deregulation and opening of the English water retail market is presenting a fantastic launch-pad for the ‘off-grid’ water supply concept, giving customers an enhanced choice, and injecting innovation and real competition in the UK water industry. By supplying water ‘off-grid’, water distribution costs are not incurred and these savings are passed directly onto customers.”
Chris Clark, chief executive, Blue Business Water
“For Blue Business Water, market opening represents an exciting new business opportunity to compete head on with the newly established incumbent retailers, to challenge the status quo and to help facilitate the benefits to businesses that this new freedom to choose supplier will bring for the first time to ALL businesses in England.”
Richard Stanbrook, director, Pennon Water Services
“This is the most important change to the water industry since privatisation and we have dedicated significant resources to making sure we’re ready. Our people have gone above and beyond to deliver our new processes and ways of working as one of the larger retailers in the new market. Currently serving 180,000 business customers from Cornwall to Scotland, we will continue to offer customers services that will help them save both time and money through lower prices and administration costs, water efficiency advice and other bespoke services. Ahead of market opening on Saturday, we’re pleased to say Pennon Water Services has developed a suite of service plans and won our first national multisite customer in a contract that covers 15 wholesale regions.”
Bob Wilson, managing director, Anglian Water Business
“We are looking forward to the market opening in England, and are excited to be bringing our expertise to the English market. Our preparation has been excellent and we are ready to provide first class service and added value for Business customers of all sizes and across all sectors.”
Giuseppe Di Vita, managing director, SES Business Water
“Competition in the water market means opportunity for everyone. Forward-thinking retailers who can create products and solutions that genuinely add value to businesses have the opportunity to grow on a national scale and create enduring and positive relationships with their customers. Businesses of all sizes have the opportunity to reduce overheads, from the savings that may be available, through consolidating their waste and water provider or their whole portfolio, to a renewed focus on driving down water consumption and unlocking efficiencies.”
John Abraham, chief operating officer – UK municipal water and Ireland, Veolia
“Opening up the water retail market to competition now offers industrial and commercial customers an opportunity to benefit from innovation and resource efficiency. Already we have seen increasing interest from existing Veolia customers in retail water services and this move will put us in position to deliver to this market. We can offer an integrated sustainable proposition which guarantees security of water and energy supply, and unlocks the value within process waste and waste water which will produce economies of scale and cost efficiencies whilst putting the circular economy into practice.
“Our partnership with Business Stream will provide clear long term benefits to customers as together we can provide a complete retail water package which can reduce utility bills, supported by optimised on-site project engineering and operational solutions such as combined heat and power and anaerobic digestion.”
To coincide with the market opening, Faversham House has launched a brand new publication – Water.Retail – under the auspices of Utility Week.
This new fortnightly, high-value, newsletter-style publication will connect brokers to wholesalers, retailers and customers, and provide water retail professionals with high-value business intelligence and market insights.