Bord Gáis owner Centrica seeks back-office cost cuts

Bord Gáis owner Centrica seeks back-office cost cuts

Power firm Centrica said operating profit at its Bord Gáis unit more than doubled in the first half of the year as its power plant in Whitegate in Co Cork came back on stream.

But shares in Centrica, which also said it plans to cut back-office costs in Ireland following similar initiatives in its home market, plunged to a 21-year low after group-wide profits slid by almost 50%.

Adjusted operating profit in the Republic rose to £31m or “by 112% to €36m in local currency” which showed a “good business performance and the 2018 comparison having been impacted by an extended maintenance outage at the Whitegate gas-fired power station” a year earlier, Centrica said.

However, following a plan to cut back-office costs in the UK, it said it will “pursue similar initiatives in North America and Ireland”.

It also said it will focus its Connected Home division on the UK and Ireland and rename it as Centrica Home Solutions.

Bord Gáis is best known as the supplier of fuel to homes and businesses, repairing residential boilers, and as the owner of the power generator in Whitegate, which it opened almost 10 years ago.

In the Republic, it is the largest gas supplier and second-largest energy supplier overall. In Britain, Centrica is best known as the owner of British Gas, the country’s largest energy supplier.

Centrica chief executive Iain Conn will step down next year after the company reported a near 50% drop in operating profit, slashed its dividend and announced plans to exit its oil and gas business, sending its shares down 16%.

Group-wide adjusted operating profit of £399m at the half-way stage compared with £782m a year earlier.

It also said it would make an extra £250m (€276m) of cost cuts after a UK cap on energy prices, warmer-than-normal weather, and weak British natural gas prices trounced profits in the first half of the year.

Centrica is shifting to consumer-facing services from oil and gas exploration and large-scale power generation. And it said it would partner with carmaker Ford to offer home charging installations for Ford’s electric vehicle customers.

Additional reporting Reuters

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