OVO / SSE Energy Services announce proposals for 2,600 redundancies as COVID-19 accelerates integration plans
19th May 2020: OVO Energy today announced proposals to reduce the number of roles across SSE Energy Services and OVO by 2,600 largely through voluntary redundancy over the course of 2020. Since the acquisition of SSE Energy Services, OVO has been planning the integration of the two businesses which would have always required changes. The impact of COVID-19 has now accelerated changing consumer behaviour with more and more customers going online and using digital tools. This has permanently reduced the demand for some functions and roles.
Employees were informed this morning of the changes and consultations will continue with the trade unions and employee representatives. The constructive dialogue with the trade unions also helped to find an agreement on offshoring. Prior to its acquisition by OVO, SSE Energy Services had already begun an offshoring programme with hundreds more roles due to follow. OVO has agreed to suspend this additional round of planned offshoring activity, minimising UK job losses.
OVO acquired SSE Energy Services in 2019 to combine its scale with OVO’s digital capabilities and enable millions more customers to experience the latest technology to decarbonise their homes while delivering best value to customers.
Even before the completion of the acquisition in early 2020, SSE Energy Services had already begun its journey towards a more digitally-led, customer-centric organisation. Since the lockdown began, this journey has been accelerated, with over 1m online transactions in April alone. At the same time the company has seen a 69% drop in Home Service Engineering work and a 92% reduction in Smart Meter installations. Meter reading activity has completely stopped since March.
Stephen Fitzpatrick, CEO and Founder of OVO said:
“Today is a very difficult day. We have a brilliant team here and this news isn’t a reflection of anyone’s work. What should have been a much longer process to digitise the SSE business and integrate it with OVO has been accelerated due to the impact of the coronavirus.
“We are seeing a rapid increase in customers using digital channels to engage with us, and in our experience, once customers start to engage differently they do not go back. As a result, we are expecting a permanent reduction in demand for some roles, whilst other field-based roles are also heavily affected.
“There is never an easy time to announce redundancies and this is a particularly difficult decision to take. But like all businesses, we face a new reality and need to adapt quickly to enable us to better serve our customers and invest in a zero carbon future.”
As part of the integration, the company will remove complexities and duplication by combining SSE Energy Services and OVO’s home services, lettings business, metering, commercial efforts and support functions. It will continue to digitise legacy SSE processes and move the business onto a common set of systems to meet the demands of an increasingly digital consumer and a more agile workforce.
To accommodate these changes, and as part of a move towards more flexible working the Selkirk, Reading and Glasgow Waterloo Street office locations will be closed. The employees in these sites will be able to either work from home or at an alternative office.