British Gas profits rise by 9% but tariffs may still rise

This week British Gas owner Centrica reported profits of £1.58bn, a 9% increase for the year ending 30 June.

Much of this extra income was generated after it raised household energy prices by 6% in November. The company also benefited from the particularly cold winter which saw customers use 13% more gas throughout the year.

The company defended itself by stating that much of the additional income was offset by “substantially higher costs for environmental obligations and network charges”. However despite this criticism, British Gas refused to rule out a further rise in tariffs this winter.

On the same day as its profits announcement, the company also revealed its plan to offer free energy to some of its customers on Saturdays. The idea is to encourage energy use when overall demand is low.

The offer applies to electricity, not gas and will only be available to homes, not businesses.

Social Media

Using YouGov’s social media analysis tool, SoMA, we can see the significant impact both of these announcements had on Twitter. The number of UK Twitter users that heard about British Gas increased from 2.9% on 30 July to a staggering 45.3% on 31 July.

By looking at the three most popular words mentioned alongside British Gas, ‘profits’, ‘rise’ and ‘free’, we can see that while both stories contributed to this substantial increase in reach, the profits story was proportionally more responsible for the increased coverage.

Brand Perception

It is also interesting to monitor what impact both of these stories had on British Gas’s consumer perception scores.

Using YouGov’s brand perception tool, BrandIndex, we can see that the company’s overall Index score (an average of 6 key image attributes) fell from -9.2 on 26 July to -16.5 on 1 August.

Furthermore, British Gas’s Buzz score (an overall measure of whether consumers have heard something positive or negative about the brand) fell from -5.9 on 26 July to -17.4 on 1 August.

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