SME customers are at risk of being “ignored totally” in the new water retail market, according to Lord Rupert Redesdale, chief executive of The Water Retail Company.
Echoing concerns raised by a number of market participants and observers, Lord Redesdale told Utility Week’s sister title Water.Retail he expected retailers to focus on large non-domestic customers with multiple sites and the potential to pay for added-value services.
According to Redesdale, SMEs constitute approximately 90 per cent of business customers in the water market. However, despite their formidable market presence, they are in danger of being “largely forgotten” by retailers, he said.
He suggested SMEs may be put off from switching by minimal savings, and, for many retailers, it may be uneconomic to take them on without a switching fee. “On the present margins, there is a risk that smaller customers will not benefit from better service or have the option to switch to a better deal,” he said.
One retailer, Everflow, said it disagrees. “We are an SME specialist and we think there are huge opportunities for SME customers to both save money and receive better service,” said the company’s customer services director Josh Gill.
Other retailers – including South East Water Choice, water2business, Source for Business, Water Plus, Castle Water, and SES Business Water – claim they have specific offerings for SME customers, and will not exclusively be going after large industrial and commercial users.
To coincide with water market opening, Faversham House has launched Water.Retail – a new fortnightly, newsletter-style publication under the auspices of Utility Week – which will connect brokers to wholesalers, retailers and customers, and provide water retail professionals with high-value business intelligence and market insights.