How the mighty have fallen (Emily Gosden writes). Less than a decade ago, Centrica ranked among the 30 biggest companies in Britain, but after hitting more than £4 in September 2013, shares in the owner of British Gas have been on a downward trajectory. With the energy group buffeted by myriad challenges, those shares are worth barely tenth of their peak, closing at about 42½p yesterday. This month, Centrica was demoted to the FTSE 250. A new team is in charge of reviving its fortunes. Chris O’Shea, who joined as finance chief less than two years ago, took over as chief executive in the spring after Iain Conn was finally ushered out by Scott Wheway, the new chairman. Other long-serving senior executives are set to go in a tough but much-needed refresh. The challenges facing the new team remain forbidding, however. The core British Gas business has been losing customers for years to cut-price rivals. Seven million households remain, but profits have fallen sharply after the government’s energy price cap limited tariffs. The supplier must dramatically reduce its costs if it is to survive. Centrica has — belatedly — acknowledged this and aims to be the cheapest supplier in the market by 2022. That will require streamlining bureaucratic operations; 5,000 job cuts announced this month are brutal but necessary, though will come at a significant short-term restructuring cost.
Times 24th June 2020 read more »