The British public is up in arms over energy prices. Despite industry deregulation, six firms still hold 99pc of the market, and RWE nPower, Scottish Power, EDF Energy, Centrica, SSE and E.ON are free to set their prices at will – a right that all recently exercised, adding an average of 8pc to 10pc on to household fuel bills across the country.
But one entrepreneur is attempting to shake the Big Six’s hold over the market. Stephen Fitzpatrick lambasts his rivals for their inflated prices, terrible customer service and opaque practices and explains how his independent energy firm, OVO Energy, is slowly gaining traction in the domestic market.
Mr Fitzpatrick’s start-up story is one of single-minded determination, incredible risk, and serious chutzpah. “I had spent five years in the City working for JP Morgan, but I always wanted to work for myself,” he explained. “I started looking into viable industries. I had no interest in running a business where you had to keep selling to people day in, day out. I wanted to have an ongoing relationship with the customer.”
After weighing up the benefits of going into insurance, telecoms, even banking, Mr Fitzpatrick settled on energy as a likely moneyspinner. “All the other sectors were already pretty competitive,” he said. “Energy stood out. It was worth £25bn a year for domestic energy, and the same again for commercial. The market had just been deregulated but there were no new entrants, despite the incumbents doing a terrible job.”