Energy supplier to close offices and cut 2600 jobs

Ovo Energy, which owns SSE’s retail division, said it has been forced to accelerate its cost-cutting plans.

Britain’s second largest supplier of domestic gas and electricity has announced plans to cut 2600 jobs.

Ovo Energy, which took over SSE’s retail division at the beginning of the year in a £500m deal, said it has been forced to accelerate its cost-cutting plans due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The majority of workers affected are those who work out in the field, such as meter readers and home service engineers.

The firm plans to close its offices in Glasgow’s Waterloo Street, Selkirk and Reading.

Staff at these sites will be moved to new offices or be allowed to work from home.

Ovo said it is aiming to make the cuts “largely through voluntary redundancy”.

In a statement released on Tuesday, Stephen Fitzpatrick, CEO and founder of OVO, said: “Today is a very difficult day. We have a brilliant team here and this news isn’t a reflection of anyone’s work. 

“What should have been a much longer process to digitise the SSE business and integrate it with OVO has been accelerated due to the impact of the coronavirus.

“We are seeing a rapid increase in customers using digital channels to engage with us, and in our experience, once customers start to engage differently they do not go back. 

“As a result, we are expecting a permanent reduction in demand for some roles, whilst other field-based roles are also heavily affected.

“There is never an easy time to announce redundancies and this is a particularly difficult decision to take. But like all businesses, we face a new reality and need to adapt quickly to enable us to better serve our customers and invest in a zero-carbon future.” 

On Monday night, ahead of the bulk of job losses being announced, it was revealed that 215 electrician and boiler repair technicians were to be made redundant.

Ovo stated that consultations would continue with the trade unions and employee representatives.

Although GMB welcomed the ending of a plan to offshore 700 jobs to South Africa, the union branded the mass cuts as a “betrayal of promises”.

Justin Bowden, GMB senior organiser, said: “Coronavirus outbreak or not, this is a massive betrayal of promises made to workers and politicians that the sale to OVO would not result in job losses. 

“The crisis and the SVT cap have affected the whole energy retail market but you cannot just cut your way out of a crisis in search of profit. 

“Whilst we were able to save 700 jobs from offshoring for now, this is still 2600 good UK jobs from a company that is busy soaking up taxpayers’ money from the furlough scheme.

“GMB says companies who take Government money from the Job Retention Scheme (JRS) should be prevented from making redundancies for at least year.”