We are just 6 weeks away from the biggest transformation to the water market in over 30 years. On April 1st, the water market will become de-regulated and around 1.2 million eligible businesses in England will be able to choose their water supplier for the first time.
At the moment over 20 regional wholesale water companies currently run the English water market. With de-regulation and the separation of retail from wholesale, we’ll not only see competition between these 20 for the first time, but we’ll also see the arrival of new retailers joining the market such as pub chain and brewer, Greene King, who have already applied for their own licence.
The aim of this ‘open water’ programme is to enable businesses the freedom to choose their own water supplier, and with it the benefits of switching which businesses are not currently aware of. Bob Taylor, MD of Anglian Water has commented that benefits could include a reduction in the cost (albeit not a huge amount), joint billing, added value offers and efficient administration, which will in turn give retailers potentially better customer service.
However, will customers actually realise these benefits? According to The Telegraph, reporting in January, only 2/3 of eligible businesses are aware of the opening of the water market and only half of the people surveyed would actually switch when the market opens.
In reality, the biggest threat to English water companies could be the access that deregulation provides to Scottish water companies to the English market. Scottish water companies went through deregulation in 2008, experiencing many bumps along the way, and as such have insight as to how the process might unfold. They could utilise this advantage to have comprehensive plans in place for the opening of the English market, stealing a march on the incumbent suppliers, and therefore be a much more attractive proposition to businesses looking for a new water supplier.
Now is really the time to make sure your water business is ready to compete. We see a place for all Water suppliers to thrive in this new market. With just 7 weeks to go we wish all of our customers the best of luck reaching their targets in this huge transition.