The future CEO of the proposed combined energy retailer SSE-Innogy looks set to lead not only a landmark shake-up in the market but a potential revolution in the services companies might offer customers in the home.

Speaking today following news of her appointment, Katie Bickerstaffe – currently CEO of the UK and Ireland division of multinational electrical and telecommunications retailer Dixons Carphone – said that whilst it was “a very, very challenging time” for the sector, the opportunities were “enormous”.

Hinting at the possibility of extending beyond supplying purely home energy retail services to consumers, she said: “I think that there are opportunities to take a very strong leadership position here, not just within energy but within other things that matter to customers within their home.

“And with the infrastructure that this retail business has, I think there’s just a massive opportunity for us to do that – and be trusted by customers to do that – and that’s really exciting.”

Accepting that the current businesses might not perhaps be the “darling of anybody at the moment”, Bickerstaffe said she liked the fact there was a lot of challenge there. “Actually setting an agenda for customers, that changes the way that they engage with our sector, is something that I think we could do, and be very brave about doing, and that really excites me.”

As a self-confessed lover of data and someone who embraces delivering change, among the first things she was looking forward to tackling was creating “something completely new in the sector”.

“So you’re bringing these two amazing companies together and hopefully creating a proposition for customers that’s different,” she said. “Hopefully more digital, easier to interact with and probably even more customer-friendly, and I think there’s massive opportunity for us to make a step-change in the way that customers perceive the sector and the industry in general.

“I think there is a roadmap for change for this business in the next three to five years that is very, very interesting.”

With a wide range of experience, including within highly competitive technology retail (whilst chief executive of Dixons, Bickerstaffe also helped oversee its £4 billion merger with Carphone Warehouse), FMCG, and customer-facing businesses, according to SSE the CEO designate offers an “invaluable understanding of customers’ needs”.

  • For more information on how energy retailers are seeking competitive advantage in home services, see our analysis and premium report.

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