British Gas ads ‘thwart’ competition threat

Independent gas suppliers are experiencing a dramatic fall in the number of customers signing up for their energy offers, according to two of the country’s biggest gas companies.

British Gas Trading marketing director Jon Kinsey says the number of consumers signing up for rival gas companies has declined by more than one third since last April. This has occurred despite the fact that free competition for gas supply has been introduced across the UK. Kinsey says: “People are signing up less, there is a real slowdown. We are encouraged; the flow has been staunched.” One BGT source says this could partly be accounted for by people going away in the summer.

Kinsey’s figures are backed up independent rival Calortex, whose newly-appointed head of marketing Matthew Eastlake says: “We have noticed that activity levels in most places have dropped dramatically. Last month we added 40,000 customers, but we had to work hard. British Gas ads have affected conversion rates.”

Eastlake says he expects activity to pick up when competition is introduced to the electricity market this autumn and companies are able to offer both gas and electricity.

Regulator Ofgas says that by this month 2,833,000 customers have signed up for BGT rivals. There are some 19 million households which use gas in the UK.

Last week, the Advertising Standards Authority found British Gas’ “123” ad campaign to be misleading, though BGT insists this was not intentional.

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