SSE profits rise 9.6pc but retail unit struggles

 
Suzie Neuwirth
ENERGY giant SSE yesterday said pre-tax profits had risen by 9.6 per cent to £1.55bn last year, but its supply arm lost 370,000 customers over the period.

The FTSE 100 firm saw supply operating profits fall 32.2 per cent to £246.2m, which it attributed to lower use of energy during milder weather and higher wholesale costs.

SSE chief executive Alistair Phillips-Davies told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the results were a “mixed bag” due to the fall in retail profits.

SSE announced in March that it would be freezing customers’ energy bills until at least 2016 and said retail profit margins were unlikely to recover for two years as a result.

Its number of energy accounts fell from 9.47m to 9.1m last year, which SSE said “reflects the highly competitive market conditions in Great Britain”, as more independent suppliers enter the sector.

SSE expects adjusted earnings per share this year to be broadly flat, but warned the next two years would be subject to greater risk.

Its networks division saw profits rise 9.3 per cent to £955.4m, due to increased investment in infrastructure such as cables and pylons. Wholesale profits rose 24.8 per cent to £634.6m, benefitting from increased production from wind farms and new gas assets.

SSE reported one-off charges of £747.2m, due to disposals of non-core assets, its decision to scale back onshore wind projects and a review of its conventional power stations.

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