The non-domestic arm of Scottish Water has applied to industry regulator Ofwat for a licence to supply the market south of the Border.
Publicly-owned Business Stream, based in Edinburgh, hailed the move as a “milestone” in its ambitions to win more new customers.
Scotland’s non-domestic water market was deregulated in 2008 and competition is set to be introduced in England from April next year, when about 1.2 million businesses and public bodies will be able to choose their water supplier – an option currently only available to the largest users.
Business Stream chief executive Jo Dow said the firm, which employs about 270 staff, already counts department store chain House of Fraser and food group Bernard Matthews among its customers south of the Border.
She added: “Business Stream aims to grow a sizeable foothold in England when the market opens in 2017 and we are exploring all options to help us achieve that. Building on our successes in England, we are already engaging with potential customers about the benefits they could realise by switching.
“The opening of the English water market is just one element of our business strategy. Business Stream remains the market leader and supplier of choice in Scotland and our existing customers will remain our key priority. To that end, we are continuing to invest in customer service improvements and offering value-for-money tailored services.”
Last year, Business Stream lost a public supply contract, worth £360 million, to rival Anglian Water. The Scottish Government said the switch would save £40m a year.