SSE upbeat despite fall in customer numbers

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Energy supplier SSE today said it lost 250,000 customers in the nine months to December, but it remained on course to grow its profits and dividends.

The Perth-based group had 9.47 million retail customers across the UK and Ireland at the end of last month, down from 9.22 million a year earlier.

Households that stayed with the firm used less power, it added, with average electricity consumption down about 4.3 per cent. Gas consumption was estimated to have fallen by 9.5 per cent.

SSE also said there was “greater uncertainty” about its capital and investment programme for the five years from 2015 because of concerns over UK government policy.

As a result, spending is likely to be lower than the £1.5 billion to £1.7bn SSE has invested each year since 2010, the group said. It will also carry out a “wide ranging” review into its offshore wind developments.

Chief executive Alistair Phillips-Davies said: “Despite what is clearly a difficult business environment, the overall performance of the company has been solid in 2013-14 and the efforts of employees, shown recently in the response to the Christmas week storms, have been excellent.

“It is encouraging that SSE is on course to deliver real growth in the dividend and increases in adjusted earnings per share and adjusted profit before tax.”