United Utilities' wholesale business emerges as a front runner in early market performance data

Posted: Monday 18th June 2018

United Utilities has been ranked the top water and sewerage company operating within England's newly competitive retail water market, according to new figures.

The North West based firm's wholesale division completed more than 98 per cent of requests from its retail customers on time. Only one other company - a water-only firm - did better at 99 per cent.

The statistics are the first submitted to market operator MOSL by wholesalers as part of a new monthly reporting mechanism.

These operational performance standards (OPS) provide a snapshot of the way England's non-household water market is shaping up at the end of the first 12 months since it launched in April 2017.

United Utilities is one of 23 regional wholesale water companies in England, who provide water and wastewater services that, since the market was reformed, independent retail companies can sell competitively to businesses.

Each wholesale company is now expected to report its performance to MOSL monthly. MOSL is the market operator of the non-household retail water market and enables the market to operate effectively.

United Utilities' Head of Wholesale Market Services Paul Stelfox said: "Since market opening in April 2017, we have steadily improved performance to the point, at the end of the first year, where we were the leading water and sewerage wholesale operator. It's great that we have maintained this position in the first of the new monthly reports.

The operational performance standards (OPS) provide retailers with visibility of how wholesalers are performing against standards for some of the most frequently requested tasks such as meter exchanges, handling complaints, applying allowances and disconnections.

The decision to report such figures monthly was something wholesalers themselves wanted, in order to drive their own performance, explained Paul.

"I'm proud of what we have achieved so far but, for me, the real benefit of the data is it highlights that there's more work to do, particularly around end user experience of the new market.

"Currently, a retailer supplying a business which has property all over the country has to navigate as many as 20 different wholesale organisations, each with different policies and tariff structures. One retailer recently reported needing to set up more than 2,000 different tariff combinations to set up a single multi-site user.

"Companies like ours have an obligation to make the market work for everyone and improving consistency between wholesalers is one way we can do it."

The MOSL figures mark a trend of improving customer satisfaction in retail and domestic household customers across United Utilities' entire business.

In January, a satisfaction survey of 15 national retailers by Water.Retail magazine ranked United Utilities top. The company also scored significantly above the industry average in Ofwat's just-released latest SIM survey of its two million household customers.

Adam Straker, operations director at new entrant retailer Everflow, said: "United Utilities display an active interest in our operation which makes them easy to do business with."

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