British Gas profit soars 11%

British Gas is seeing early signs marketing efforts to improve its reputation are starting to pay off as perception of the brand improved in 2012 in the year that saw its profits jump 11 per cent to £606m, according to the latest brand tracking data.

Marketing activity from the energy firm is showing early signs it is starting to take affect with UK bill payers.

The energy firm said it performed well in the 12 months to 31 December, despite a weak economy and rising wholesale costs. It added colder weather also contributed to the profit rise. Residential energy revenues rose to £9.1bn from £7.9bn, as household gas usage rose by 12 per cent along with higher retailer tariffs.

The results come amid mounting questions over the fairness of energy prices after the business increased tariffs by 6 per cent at the end of last year.

British Gas said its “churn” – the number of customers leaving the provider – is the lowest it has ever been, suggesting marketing activity and efforts to improve customer service over the last year are starting to take effect.

The business launched several high-profile marketing initiatives including a simplified bills service and an online consumer panel in 2012 aimed at restoring its damaged reputation and improving transparency across it business.

The increased focus on developing the brand with a restructured marketing team and a new data platform to enhance its insight around specific customer groups, has led an improvement in brand perception levels, according to YouGov’s BrandIndex data.

British Gas’ Buzz rating – a net balance of negative and positive comments consumers have heard about a brand – rose to -14.42 yesterday (26 February) from -19.32 on 28 February a year ago when it reported its full year earnings for 2011.

Its Index ranking – a net average of how customers rate the brand in terms of impression, quality, value, reputation, satisfaction and whether they would recommend it – rose to -12.07 from -14.70 over the same period.

The energy firm, which is currently running a campaign to promote its ‘Tariff Check’ service, says: “It is important that we continue to focus on improving customer service and reducing costs.”

British Gas owner Centrica also confirmed that the energy supplier’s managing director Phil Bentley would leave later this year.

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