SSE profits surge despite price rises

 
Guy Bentley
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SSE profits have jumped 9.6 per cent for the year ended 31 March (Source: Getty)

Energy giant SSE has reported a rise in profit before tax of 9.6 per cent to £1.55bn for the year ended 31 March, despite having raised customers' bills by 8.2 per cent during the period.

Analysts predicted a nine per cent rise in profits for the last fiscal year. The company also decided to hike its dividend by three per cent.

"SSE is listening to and helping customers with the longes ever household energy price freeze in the Great Britain market; we have well-defined plans for net investment of around £5.5bn over the next four years", said Lord Smith of Kelvin, chairman of SSE.

Britain's second biggest energy company said the issues for the energy sector "are very challenging".

Speaking to the BBC, SSE's chief executive Alistair Phillips-Davies said the company's profits were "a mixed bag", with profits in the retail sector down 30 per cent.

Philip-Davies argued that there was significant competition in the retail market and the results reflected tough competitive conditions, reiterating that prices had been but by £50 after action by the government on green levies.

"Overall, these results were in line with expectations, and the major initiative announcements had already been made with the pre-close update", said Whitman Howard utilities analyst Angelos Anastasiou.

The results follow research released by PwC showing SSE contributed £9.1bn to the UK economy last year and supported 112,000 UK jobs in 2013.

SSE said in March that it would freeze energy prices until 2016, with politicians clamouring to take credit for the move. SSE also announced in March that it plans to shelve four offshore wind projects and cut 500 jobs as part of a streamlining process to save £1bn.