Water Companies Set to Haemorrhage Hundreds of Thousands of Business Customers in 2017

Water Companies Set to Haemorrhage Hundreds of Thousands of Business Customers in 2017

Over half of English businesses say they are likely to switch supplier when the water market is deregulated in 2017.

Press Release

Water Companies Set to Haemorrhage Hundreds of Thousands of Business Customers in 2017

  • Over Half of English Businesses Say They Are Likely to Switch Supplier When The Water Market is Deregulated in 2017
  • Poor Value For Money, Low Quality Service and Lack of Trust Likely to Drive Customers Away
  • Research Suggests Potential for Market Shake-Up

Newcastle, 7 December 2016: According to survey data released today by leading utility management consultancy, Utilitywise plc (AIM:UTW), England water companies are set to see customers switching to newly created water businesses,  with the potential to lose hundreds of thousands of business customers to these companies when the water market deregulates in April next year.

Businesses in England are set to be the major beneficiary of a huge potential shake-up of the water sector with the survey data showing that over half (53%) of English businesses are likely to switch water supplier in 2017.

Those “in the know” are even more likely to switch.  When informed about water deregulation, a massive 74% of businesses stated that they are likely to switch compared to the 37% of companies with little knowledge of the upcoming changes. It is expected that now customers have experienced switching suppliers within the deregulated energy market, this will negate any uncertainty that existed years ago with changing utility suppliers.

James Duncan, Head of Water Market Strategy at Utilitywise said:

“Everything is up for grabs next year as businesses across England seize control of their water supply arrangements for the first time.  Many water suppliers risk being caught short as business customers will no longer have to tolerate poor customer service and lack of competition.  By exercising their right to switch supplier, small and medium-sized businesses finally have a choice and will benefit from a fundamental reshaping of the market.”

The survey exposes widespread dissatisfaction with value and service provided by current water suppliers. Many of the customers surveyed expressed dissatisfaction with value for money with 38% believing that they pay too much.

When asked about the reasons for switching supplier, 56% of businesses stated that they want “a better price”, nearly 1 in 4 (22%) want “better customer service” and a quarter (26%) want “a supplier that they can trust.” Alarmingly, only 19% are happy with their current supplier.

Billing issues appear to be a common occurrence within the sector with 37% of businesses in the country having experienced billing errors (with half of these being over-charged). Only 41% of these were satisfied with the way that billing issues were resolved.  This has contributed towards over 30% of businesses saying that they do not trust their current water supplier to “put the customer first.”

James Duncan further commented: “These survey results are a wake-up call to suppliers in the English market.  Our experience of the impact of deregulation in the Scottish market shows that the incumbent supplier lost around 50% of its market share for reasons very similar to those highlighted in this survey. There are over 1.2 million businesses in the English market who will be able to choose their water supplier from April 2017 onwards. This means that the most progressive, innovative, service-oriented suppliers have a fantastic opportunity to raise the service, trust and value bar and win hundreds of thousands of new customers in 2017 and beyond.”

A recent Utilitywise-sponsored survey revealed that just four in ten businesses across England are aware of forthcoming water deregulation in 2017, with just 25% of English businesses saying that they felt informed.  It was revealed that many businesses don’t understand the potential benefits of the coming market changes.

The survey shows that 46% of businesses are looking to the Government to provide clarity around the changes to the water market, with only 15% trusting the information that they receive from water companies. This highlights the demand for more to be done to help companies when the market deregulates next year.



James Rollinson, Edelman:

Tel: +44 203 047 2194


 About the research:

The research was commissioned by Utilitywise and conducted by Edelman Intelligence, an independent market research firm.  Between 13-20 October 2016, Edelman Intelligence conducted online interviews with 453 business decision makers in England.

The survey included a main sample of business decision makers from England (453), which is representative in terms of region and business size.

About Utilitywise:

As one of the UK’s leading independent consultancies, Utilitywise is advising c.30,000 clients, helping them to get the most value from their energy through better procurement and services that allow them to be more energy efficient.

Having grown from a start-up business in 2006 to managing an effective IPO in 2012, Utilitywise understands the needs and concerns of its small, medium and large customers. It works with clients ranging from South Tyneside Bowls and Social Club and the University of Bradford to FTSE100 BAE Systems and AstraZeneca.

Utilitywise aims to debunk the myths that exist around utilities and support businesses across the UK to spend less time worrying about utilities so they can spend more time running their companies. In 2016 Utilitywise was named an OEM partner by Dell as part of a joint strategy to introduce Internet of Things (IoT) Building Automation solutions to customers.

Utilitywise is a UK company quoted on the AIM market of the London Stock Exchange. For more information, please visit: www.utilitywise.com

For more about Utilitywise’s water offer please visit:  www.utilitywise.com/water

About Edelman Intelligence:

Edelman Intelligence is a global, full-service markets insights and analytics firm that provides corporate, non-profit and government clients with strategic intelligence to make their communications and engagements with stakeholders the smartest they can be.

The firm specialises in measurement, tracking and analysis in reputation, branding and communications.

Edelman Intelligence is part of Edelman, the world’s largest public relations company.  Edelman Intelligence has more than 200 employees and 12 offices around the world.

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Posted by on Wednesday, the 7. December at 8.57

Utilitywise has been helping businesses manage their business utilities since 2006. With over 40,000 customers across Europe, we help businesses save time, save effort and save money by reducing their energy and water consumption.