Water & Wastewater Treatment

WWT February 2017

Water & Wastewater Treatment Magazine

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Close-Up Water retail Who are the big fish in the new retail market? www.wwtonline.co.uk | WWT | FEBRUARY 2017 | 17 ● £2.5BN new market for non-domestic water retail to open in April ● Joint ventures, incumbents and new entrants compete for business ● Water Plus to start in leading position with 400,000 customers By James Brockett F rom April, 1.2 million business and public bodies in England will be able to choose their water supplier for the first time, creating a new market worth around £2.5BN. Established water companies have positioned themselves under new brands to defend their non-domestic customer base while ambitious new entrants will be aiming to grab market share. So who are the players in the new market, how many customers do they currently have, and which of them are best positioned to capture more? Here we present WWT's guide to the biggest of the runners and riders who will be competing for attention in the water retail arena. 1. Water Plus Formed in March 2016 as a joint venture between United Utilities and Severn Trent, Water Plus will start with the benefit of size in the new market, serving approximately 400,000 business customers inherited from the two water companies. It also already has 5,000 Scottish customers and can point to a track record of working with large, multi- site organisations such as Tesco, Sainsbury's Radisson Hotels and the Co-op Group. Former United Utilities Business Retail Director Sue Amies- King leads Water Plus while Stuart Howell, formerly head of finance for Severn Trent's business services division, is chief financial officer. With its headquarters in Stoke-on-Trent, Water Plus has taken on a mixture of staff who have relocated from Severn Trent and UU offices in Coventry and Warrington respectively. Approximate number of customers: 400,000 2. Castle Water The Scottish retailer caused a sensation in July when it was announced that it was acquiring the business customers of Thames Water, which is exiting the non-household retail market; the move meant the company increased its customer base ninefold in one stroke. Interestingly, Castle Water's headquarters are in a real castle: Craighall Castle in Blairgowrie, Perthshire, which is owned by its ex-investment banker chief executive, John Reynolds. The firm made an initial step into the English market in January when it struck a deal to acquire the business customers of Portsmouth Water, another supplier which has chosen to exit the new market. Castle is the largest player in the new market that is independent of any wholesaler, and as such, the industry will be watching closely to see how the 'new kid on the block' manages its rapid expansion. Customers: 330,000 Sue Amies-King, chief exec, Water Plus

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