CNG feels benefit of moves away from Big Six

Contract Natural Gas managing director Jacqui Hall

Contract Natural Gas managing director Jacqui Hall

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COMMERCIAL gas supplier CNG has taken on a raft of new recruits as it reports rising demand for its services, boosted by public dissatisfaction in the Big Six energy suppliers.

The Harrogate-based company, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this month, recorded a turnover of £150m last year and expects the figure to hit around £180m this year, up 20 per cent, with a target of £220m for the year after.

CNG supplies commercial natural gas to businesses, from family firms to blue chip corporations, across sectors including retail, leisure and hospitality.

But it also provides technical services to independent gas providers such as Ovo Energy.

Chris England, operations director at CNG, said: “I think that people are looking around a lot more rather than just staying with the Big Six.

“They are realising there are others out there who can do a good job for them as well. People shop around a lot more than they used to.”

Mr England added: “We have got a good name with our agents and brokers so when they suggest going to somebody outside the Big Six like ourselves people are willing to give us a chance.”

He added that smaller independent suppliers such as Ovo Energy have been “growing nicely”, which has also contributed to CNG’s growth.

Ovo Energy is among a number of smaller energy providers to have benefited from a move by consumers in the last few months away from larger groups such as the Big Six following public outrage at energy price rises.

Mr England said: “We offer (the independent gas suppliers) forecasting services and their gas balancing services which is the more technical side of the business.

“We offer those services to the suppliers so they can concentrate on supplying the end user.”

CNG has made seven new appointments since December last year.

The latest new recruits have been taken on in a number of departments including, registrations, site works, events coordination, sales and billing, credit control and administration.

CNG has a team of nearly 80 staff members, most of whom are based in Harrogate.

CNG managing director Jacqui Hall said: “We’re delighted to be welcoming more newcomers to the business.

“This year is all set to be one of the most dynamic yet as we continue to grow the business and also celebrate our anniversary with a raft of events and activities.”

The new starters will undertake a newly devised induction programme to ensure they have a good understanding of the business at the outset of their careers at CNG.

Mr England said that it is key that CNG gets its price and level of service right so that brokers will recommend them again and again.

“Our retention is in the high 80s for when we’re coming up for renewal so we are taking them on in the first instance and we are keeping a high percentage of those for a second, third and fourth year as well.”

He said that when customers do need to contact CNG they appreciate the fact that they can get through to a person rather than going through a long-winded option selection process.

“That’s one reason why we are building our staff in certain areas so we can keep that level of service up.”

“We have always looked to grow in a structured way. We are not looking to double our turnover within a year. We are looking to grow but still keep our level of service up,” said Mr England.

He said that CNG still has a “relatively low” percentage of the UK business market, less than five per cent.

“So we still have a lot of potential there,” he said.

“If we can grow by 20 to 30 per cent growth levels, if that means taking on another 10 to 12 people within the year then we will, but we will bring them on so they can be trained in the right way and if we hit our growth targets.”

CNG started in 1994 following the deregulation of the UK gas industry.

In 2011, the company went through the first stage of a management buyout, purchasing shares back from Glencore with the help of a £2.25m loan from the Co-operative Bank.

Glencore completed its merger with mining giant Xstrata in March last year to create one of the world’s largest global diversified natural resource companies.

CNG completed its buyout last year with the purchase of preference shares from the founder’s family.

suzan.uzel@ypn.co.uk

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