British Gas owner Centrica reveals £1.3bn profits
Centrica has reported profits of £1.3 billion in the six months to 30 June, with £230 million of that sum coming from British Gas.
The results are down from last year, Centrica's by 19% and British Gas by 54% and the figures have come out just a couple of weeks after British Gas announced price hikes of 18% for gas and 16% for electricity, to come into effect in August.
Centrica blames a rise in worldwide oil prices and a "challenging economic environment" for its fall in profits. It says it has invested £1.3 billion to secure new sources of energy - though not all focused on the UK.
Consumer groups have reacted angrily to today's results. Audrey Gallacher, spokesperson for Consumer Focus, says Centrica seems to win whether wholesale costs are high or low.
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She says with 'Big Six' companies,, who are both suppliers and wholesalers, dominating the energy market it is hard to see where the competitive spark that will provide a better deal for consumers will come from.
"Consumers will be more worried by their increasing bills than which part of an energy company makes the most money. Given Centrica profits remain strong, consumers are bound to question whether recent large price hikes were necessary" she adds.
Scott Byrom, spokesperson for moneysupermarket.com, echoes this sentiment. He says today's news will be little comfort to the nine million British Gas customers who will see their energy bills rise from August.
"Today's results, combined with the recent record £2.5 million fine for British Gas by energy regulator Ofgem for poor complaint handling, serves as a reminder to consumers how important it is to shop around and regularly look for better priced energy deals. Being loyal to your energy provider is never rewarded," he adds.