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Thames Water Granted Licences to Compete in Retail Market

24 Sept 2012

Thames Water has been granted licences to sell water to commercial customers across England, Scotland and Wales. The two licences were granted by Ofwat, the regulator for England and Wales, and Water Industry Commission for Scotland (WICS), the Scottish regulator.

This development marks Thames Water’s entry into the UK’s expanding competitive retail water market. The company’s retail services will include customer-facing activities such as, billing, total account handling, customer queries, as well as water-efficiency advice and undertaking issues with customers’ pipes leaks.

At present, business customers in England and Wales who use five million litres of water or more, per year have the option to select their water provider for these ‘retail’ services. Whereas in Scotland, there is no restriction on usage and all commercial customers are free to choose their provider.

Up until a recent change, business customers in England and Wales that were using 50 million litres a year or above were only able choose their supplier. Ofwat however, drastically lowered this threshold to five million litres a year in November 2011; thus creating a far greater market for retail providers to compete for. This initiative comes as part of Ofwat’s strategy to introduce full retail market competition for commercial customers in the water sector.

Piers Clark, director of Thames Water Commercial Services Limited, said:
“Securing these licences marks our official entry into the competitive water retail market. Under these arrangements, eligible business customers won’t see a physical difference in the delivery of water to their premises: it will still arrive at their taps through the same set of pipes. The difference will be in the customer service offering.

Large organisations, like supermarket chains or regional authorities, often have a raft of different water accounts with a raft of different providers and often across many different sites.

We will offer eligible business customers the simplicity of having one bill, one service provider, one number to call if there’s a problem and a range of products and services tailored to their specific needs. We want to be ‘the natural choice,’ helping customer to better manage this essential resource and save money on their water and wastewater bills.

Creating a competitive market is good for high-use customers. They can now vote with their feet if their service isn’t good enough, putting the onus on us to provide the best possible service to both win and keep their business.”