Coronavirus: Energy supplier OVO to axe 2,600 jobs as it integrates SSE retail arm

Lianna Brinded
Head of Yahoo Finance UK
OVO CEO: 'We are expecting a permanent reduction in demand for some roles'. (Jeremy O'Donnell/Getty Images for OVO Energy)

Energy supplier OVO said 2,600 jobs will be made redundant as it integrates SSE’s retail arm, in a deal worth £500m ($612m).

The group said in a statement that the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated integration plans and that it will first ask its staff to apply for voluntary redundancy, with the lion’s share of the lost jobs borne by those who work out in the field, such as meter readers and home service engineers.

“Today is a very difficult day. We have a brilliant team here and this news isn’t a reflection of anyone’s work,” said Stephen Fitzpatrick, CEO and Founder of OVO.

“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.”

In a statement sent by OVO, Gerry Crawley, UNISON regional organiser said: “any job loss at this time is deeply regrettable but UNISON will continue to work with SSE/OVO to try and ensure that any job losses are through a voluntary redundancy process.

“UNISON welcomes the fact that, through early engagement, 700 jobs that were going to be off shored to South Africa, will now be maintained within the UK."

READ MORE: Coronavirus: UK employment at record high as COVID-19 lockdown began

“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.” 

OVO will also close two offices in Glasgow and Reading that it acquired as part of the SSE deal and a third in Selkirk. The staff at these sites will be moved to new offices or be allowed to work from home.

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