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The beginning of the end for the big six?

New study suggests the big six will lose a quarter of customers by 2020 and some will leave the market altogether

Will the big six go extinct?

Will the big six go extinct?

Analysts at Citigroup have predicted that the big six energy companies – British Gas, EDF Energy, E.ON, ScottishPower, SSE and npower – will lose a quarter of their customers by 2020.

The main reasons given for the change were the increasingly competitive market conditions within the energy sector due to the emergence of cheaper small energy suppliers. As a result the big six must decide to either keep offering high priced plans and lose customers to small suppliers, or cut prices and reduce their profit margins.

At present, roughly half of all households which switch energy provider chose a small supplier.

Big six to disappear?

The big six currently supply 92% of British homes, however, this is expected to fall to under 70% by 2020. As a result, combined profits could fall from £1.2bn in 2013 to £700m in 2020. A situation which could have huge implications for the residential energy market.

According to Citigroup analysts, in order to compete with small suppliers, the big six would need to invest in restructuring their supply business and drastically lower costs, as well as improve customer service.

In this context, some of the big six may simply decide to pull out of the UK market and sell their customers to a rival firm. npower was singled out as the supplier most vulnerable to losing customers, due to high levels of complaints and admin costs per customer.

‘Wake-up call to the big six’

Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at, said: “This report is a wake-up call to the big six. Consumers are voting with their feet and choosing suppliers who offer competitive prices and good customer service, so it’s little wonder that newer entrants are expected to go from strength to strength.

“We are calling on Ofgem to make sure its recent reforms to increase competition and customer engagement with the industry are working – and not wait for the outcome of the Competition and Markets Authority review.”

Small suppliers top best buy table

Small suppliers have continued to dominate the best buy table, since last winter’s price rises. This situation looks unlikely to change in the near future with four of the five plans currently on the table coming from small suppliers.

For the first time in months, a plan from one of the big six energy suppliers has entered the energy best buy table. E.ON’s Energy Fixed 1 Year will set back the average home by £1,011 per year (with paperless billing) and carries £5 per fuel cancellation fees, but is only available until the 15th of October.

Best buy table

Best Buy’ plans paying by monthly Direct Debit


Plan Name (POR)

Average Bill Size (£)

Tariff type

Extra Energy

Fresh Fixed Price Nov 2015 v2



First Utility

iSave Fixed October 2015 (v30)



Sainsbury’s Energy

Fixed Price October 2015



OVO Energy

Better Energy Fixed (Online)




E.ON Fixed 1 Year v9 (paperless billing)



Source: Based on a medium user customer using 3,200 kWh of electricity and 13,500 kWh of gas, on a dual fuel plan, paying by monthly Direct Debit, with bill sizes averaged across all regions.

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  • Trudy

    Encouraging news…. I was advised to switch to the ‘Eon Fixed 1 year v9’ when I called Eon to update my name details last week! I was delighted to have the unexpected saving, Thank you Eon!