First Utility

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
First Utility
Industry Utilities
Founded 2008
Headquarters Warwick, United Kingdom
Area served United Kingdom
Products Gas & Electricity
Website www.first-utility.com

First Utility is a supplier of gas and electricity in the United Kingdom, based in Warwick. In October 2013 the company was ranked as the seventh largest supplier in the UK, making it the largest outside the Big 6.[1] By September 2014 the company had a market share of 2%.[2][3]

Unlike the Big 6, the company does not generate electricity, instead purchasing it from international markets. The company has a relationship with Shell, which sees it act as an intermediary to purchase wholesale energy on the global market. [4]

History[edit]

The company was launched in 2008 by co-founders Mark Daeche, Darren Braham and Marcus Citron as a spin-out from First Telecom.[5][1] In January 2012 the company appointed the former lastminute.com CEO Ian McCaig as its new CEO.[6]

In January 2014 the company signed a three year deal to become title sponsors of the Super League.[7]

In September 2014, the firm announced it was considering an initial public offering or outside investment to fund foreign expansion.[8]

Technology[edit]

Being a small new entrant to the market allowed the company to experiment with new technology without the burden of having to migrate large numbers of customers from legacy systems. [9] The company was the first in the UK to offer smart meters to its residential customers.[10] [11] This also gave the company experience of a large smart meter roll-out programme. [12] The company has partnered with various other providers including oPower and Google PowerMeter to provide customers with access to usage data. [13]

Customer relations[edit]

Ofgem issued a disciplinary order against the company in December 2010 [14] for failing to protect vulnerable customers [15] [16]

In April 2012 the new chief executive Ian McCaig said

"Of course rapid growth brings additional demands, particularly on our customer service. As I mentioned above there are, however a range of things we are doing to make sure our customer service is meeting your needs at all times. We have: Increased our customer-facing staff by over a third in recent months and we are continuing to grow the team." ... "Introduced a new email management system, which helps us group queries and provide faster response times. Since implementation response times have improved by 50%. We're going to be on top of this very soon and your email service will improve. I want to apologise if you have had delays in us responding to emails." ... "I know that as a growing business we haven't delivered the best customer service at all times but I can see real improvements happening every day. With the initiatives listed above, and the improvements we're making, our aim is to deliver the best customer service the industry has to offer."

—Ian McCaig, Covering letter on bills sent to First Utility customers April 2012

Energy Saving Advice[edit]

In 2014 the company received criticism for the tone of its energy saving advice. It was reported that Shadow Energy minister Tom Greatrex said the advice was an “insult” to millions of people, the company's reported response was “These tips are meant to provide some advice on how we might reduce our energy usage and absolutely not intended to trivialise the issue of fuel poverty, something we take very seriously.” [17] [18]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b First utility boss: bills could double in the next 10 years The Telegraph, 19 October 2013
  2. ^ "Telegraph why FU". telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 25 September 2014. 
  3. ^ "FU rival big 6". independent.co.uk. Retrieved 25 September 2014. 
  4. ^ First Utility eyes lower bills with Shell energy deal The Telegraph, 9 December 2013
  5. ^ "Fast Track 100 - First Utility". Fast Track. Retrieved 28 March 2012. 
  6. ^ "Energy minnow seeks big name". London: The Independent. 13 February 2012. Retrieved 28 March 2012. 
  7. ^ Super League agrees new three-year sponsorship deal BBC Sport, 21 January 2014
  8. ^ "UK's First Utility eyes IPO to fund expansion" (Press release). Reuters. 7 September 2014. 
  9. ^ "FU - Smart meter information". utilityweek.co.uk. Retrieved 30 September 2014. 
  10. ^ "FU - Siemens to provide smart meters". uk.prweb.com. Retrieved 30 September 2014. 
  11. ^ "FU smart meters available". energylinx.co.uk. Retrieved 30 September 2014. 
  12. ^ "Smart meter pitfalls". businessgreen.com. Retrieved 30 September 2014. 
  13. ^ "FU - metering data partnerships". greenwisebusiness.co.uk. Retrieved 30 September 2014. 
  14. ^ "Ofgem disciplinary order". www.ofgem.gov.uk. Retrieved 24 September 2014. 
  15. ^ "Telegraph - FU fails to protect vulnerable". www.telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 24 September 2014. 
  16. ^ "Guardian - FU not fit for purpose". www.theguardian.com. Retrieved 24 September 2014. 
  17. ^ "FU independent energy advice insulting". independent.co.uk. Retrieved 24 September 2014. 
  18. ^ "FU Daily mail bizarre money-saving". dailymail.co.uk. Retrieved 24 September 2014. 

External links[edit]