Energy giant SSE continued to lose customers in the three months to the end of June, as clients continued to switch to smaller providers.
The total number of retail electricity and gas customers at SSE fell from 8.58m at the start of the quarter to 8.49m, as clients moved away from the “big six” towards small players.
Average consumption of electricity by household customers also fell to 822kWh compared to 853kWh.
And SSE warned it expects a decline in operating profit of its energy supply arm, one of its biggest divisions.
The company also said that while dividend increases will "at least" stay in line with RPI inflation, its long term target remains at 1.5 times, but added that in the next three years this could range from 1.2 times to 1.4 times, due to current conditions.
However, it also said it expects an increase in operating profit in its energy portfolio management and electricity generation businesses this year.
Shares in the company dipped 0.41 per cent to 1,518.5p in early trading.
Why it's interesting
As with other large energy suppliers in the UK, SSE has been under increasing public scrutiny in recent months.
Ofgem, the UK’s power watchdog, launched an investigation into whether SSE had put other power companies at a competitive disadvantage in Britain’s home electricity connection market back in January.
In December, the energy supplier was fined £1.75m by Ofgem for failing to meet government environmental obligations to reduce household bills and lower carbon emissions.
It has also been hit by government plans to withdraw subsidies for many renewable energy projects.
However, chief executive Alistair Phillips-Davies maintained that“while there have been significant developments affecting all parts of the business, there has also been important progress in operational performance, which is essential for meeting the expectations of customers now and in the future.
What SSE said
Alistair Phillips-Davies, chief executive said:
The early months of this new financial year have again demonstrated the breadth and depth of the issues that need to be managed by SSE as we aim to fulfill our core purpose of providing the energy people need in a reliable and sustainable way.
We remain focused on maintaining and developing a balanced range of energy businesses; and our capital investment programme has reached a series of important milestones in recent months.
All of this means that our financial outlook remains as set out in May and that we are in a good position to respond constructively to the key issues likely to emerge in the rest of this financial year and beyond.
Like its rivals, SSE has been hit by increasing competition in the market, as well as higher scrutiny from the government - but the company insists it will meet expectations.