Centrica doesn’t rule Ireland out of job-cuts plan

By Geoff Percival

British utilities giant Centrica has stopped short of saying Ireland won’t be included in a group-wide jobs cull aimed at realising cost savings of £1.25bn (€1.4bn) by 2020.

It has owned Bord Gáis Energy for the last four years. The targeted savings figure is a £500m increase from when the group issued a profit warning in November.

The company also owns British Gas. It has stepped up plans for job cuts and cost savings after yesterday reporting a 17% fall in annual operating profit.

Centrica plans to cut 4,000 jobs and said it would cut about 1,000 jobs on a like-for-like basis in 2018 and save about £200m this year. The planned job cuts come atop some 5,500 jobs shed since the start of 2016.

It is unclear if any of the job cuts will take place in Ireland, where Centrica employs about 300 people at Bord Gáis Energy, which it acquired in 2014.

A Centrica spokesperson said that the majority of the job losses will be in the UK, without saying if Ireland will be affected.

Bord Gáis Energy last month named Catherine O’Kelly as its new managing director who will take over from Dave Kirwan in September. The role is currently being filled on an interim basis by Mark Prentice.

Mr Kirwan, Bord Gáis boss since 2011, left in January to head Centrica’s group customer operations in the UK.

Upon announcing his move, in December, Mr Kirwan was quoted as saying his appointment was a vote of confidence by Centrica in Bord Gáis Energy and its staff.

He said that Centrica was happy with its Irish division, saying that “they realise that they got more than a business, they also got good people”.

Meanwhile, Centrica also said it aims to divest its 20% stake in the entity which operates the UK’s 15 operating nuclear reactors by the end of 2020, but analysts warned it might not be easy to find a buyer.

Centrica reported a 17% fall in 2017 adjusted operating profit to £1.25bn on revenue up 3% to £28bn.

In November it had warned of lower-than- expected full-year earnings citing its North American and British businesses.

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