Monday, 4 April 2011

Not just energy, its M&S Energy

NotJust energy, its M&S Energy

High street giant Marks & Spencer has confirmed it will now sell gas and electricity alongside its food and clothes as part of a new deal with Scottish & Southern Energy.
Shoppers will soon be able to buy their household energy in stores around the country and online, and will be rewarded with M&S vouchers for signing up, renewing their contracts and reducing energy consumption.
Scottish & Southern Energy (www.scottishandsouthern.co.uk) said M&S Energy customers will pay the same price as the energy suppliers existing customers who have dual fuel and pay by Direct Debit – an average of £1,196 a year.
It has also been agreed that all the electricity going to M&S customers will come from Scottish hydro generating plants – providing ‘green’ appeal.
The energy deal will be available online and into 16 stores around the UK as of October 27, and will then be extended to 62 stores by the end of next month.
A spokeswoman for M&S said the idea was to take the confusion out of buying gas and electricity: “As a business we buy a lot of energy ourselves. It is complicated, so we are going to give people a choice they know they can trust. The service will also enable customers to reduce their energy consumption and their bills.”
The new energy offer is part of a push by M&S to broaden their market, selling a wider range of goods and services.
The retailer now sells a range of electrical goods and is trialling branded foods in 19 supermarkets in the north-east; and is also entering the global markets, with the opening of its first store in China two weeks ago.
Here in the UK though, M&S is facing increasingly tough trading conditions. Chairman Sir Stuart Rose recently reported a 6% downturn in sales and announced he was slashing planned investment to save cash.
SSE, the second biggest energy supplier in the UK behind British Gas (www.britishgas.co.uk), has around 8.5 million customers, and plans to use the deal with M&S to grow its market share.
“It is a new channel to reach additional customers,” a SSE spokesman said. “We want to continue to grow. We expect to continue to grow.”
The M&S Energy offer rewards customers with a £15 voucher if they reduce their annual energy usage by 10%, and customers opting for paperless billing will get another £10 voucher. Dual-fuel customers switching to M&S Energy will also receive a £20 M&S voucher on signing and a further £10 voucher for each year they remain with M&S Energy.
The M&S spokeswoman said meter reading, bad debt collection and disconnections would be handled by SSE, which has set up a specialist M&S customer service team: “They are sector leaders when it comes to service. They reflect our brand values.”
Carl Leaver, director of International, Home & M&S Direct, said: “M&S Energy is an exciting addition to our range of services. The energy sector can be quite complex and we want to make it simpler for our customers. We also understand that the cost of living has risen for many customers and we hope to encourage them to save money by reducing their energy usage.”
Alistair Phillips-Davies, SSE’s energy supply director, said: “I am confident that our partnership will deliver a market-leading product ... It shows energy supply in this country is constantly evolving with new products, services and ways of communicating with customers.”
Chris Eagle, commercial manager of EnergyChoices.co.uk said: “This new deal will certainly cause a stir in the energy market. With an added incentive of the reward vouchers, existing M&S customers may take advantage of the offer; and new customers will be attracted with the low prices.”

By becca.talbot@consumerchoices.co.uk
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