Utilitywise shares hit amid loss, chairman move

Geoff Thompson

Shares of Newcastle-based utility consultancy Utilitywise fell more than 11% after it said executive chairman and founder Geoff Thompson would become non-executive chairman with immediate effect and exceptional charges helped push the firm to a loss of £6 million in the six months to January 31, 2017.

Thompson said: “One of my priorities on becoming executive chairman was to make sure we assembled the strongest possible executive team.

“With that team now in place and with a compelling strategy to deliver on a number of ambitious targets by the end of 2021, this is a logical point at which to step away from the day-to-day running of the business whilst maintaining continuity via a non-executive role.

“Whilst I am very proud of the capability we have built across the group, I firmly believe we are still only really scratching the surface in terms of the opportunities available to us …”

Utilitywise said revenue rose 11% to £46.1 million during the six months and total group customers increased 17% to 40,855.

Adjusted profit before tax edged up 4% to £9.4 million and interim dividend per share rose 5% to 2.3p.

Utilitywise CEO Brendan Flattery said: “There continues to be an increasing opportunity for us on both sides of the meter — from providing independent advice on tariffs and helping customers get a better deal on their energy procurement, to providing technology that helps them monitor and reduce energy consumption as well as ensuring compliance and saving money.

“In order to further strengthen the group’s commercial prospects, the board has taken the strategic decision to discontinue the practice of taking cash advances from suppliers, as well as increasing the transparency of the balance sheet through a number of prior period restatements and the non-cash impairment of our investment in t-Mac.

“The decision to discontinue cash advances from suppliers and the prior period adjustments will have a one-off impact on net debt but puts the group in a stronger position to achieve its future growth ambitions.”