Utility company moots renaming all brands under the umbrella of French holding company EdF

The London Electricity (LE) Group is considering plans to axe its entire roster of utility brands, including LE, SWEB, Virgin HomeEnergy and the recently acquired Seeboard. It is believed the group may be rebranded as Electricité de France or EdF, the name of the holding company, which is owned by the French state.

Industry insiders say the move is in line with the French government’s plans to sell-off part of EdF to the public. The IPO is slated for 2004.

“The rebranding of the group as EdF will have resonance with the City in case of its Stock Exchange float,” says one insider.

Another source adds: “The rebranding programme is still at the planning stage. The company no longer needs the Virgin brand as its national brand and instead will have to come up with a new name that has resonance with consumers. The jury is still out on the use of EdF.”

Last year, Virgin Group put the LE Group under consultation about the continued use of the Virgin brand name for selling gas and electricity, following controversy over the company’s selling practices (MW August 1, 2002). Sir Richard Branson holds 25 per cent of the Virgin HomeEnergy brand.

In October, the group put together a team of people, called Project Mango, to look into consolidating all the brands under a new name (MW October 31, 2002).A spokesman for the LE Group’s retail arm says: “We are in the process of reviewing everything, but we cannot be drawn into any specific details at the moment.”

The utility company is seeking an advertising agency to handle advertising for the group.

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