The company has its historical origin in the Gas Light and Coke Company which incorporated in 1812. Over the next 137 years, it grew by acquisition of other gas companies to become the primary supplier of gas to Greater London. In 1949, under the Gas Act 1948 the ownership of the company transferred to a government agency, North Thames Gas Board. The various area gas boards were merged into the national British Gas Corporation in 1973. The Gas Act 1986 sold the company to private investors as British Gas plc.
Centrica became a separate, distinct corporation on 17 February 1997, when British Gas plc split to form three separate companies: Centrica plc, BG plc and Transco plc. Centrica took over gas sales and gas trading, services and retail businesses, together with the gas production operations in the North and South Morecambe gas fields . The new company was a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.The company operates through three intermediary holding companies:
British Gas Trading Ltd, founded in 1995.
GB Gas Holdings Limited, founded 1996, which holds British Gas .
Centrica Hive Ltd, founded in 2007.In 1998, Centrica's supplier monopoly for gas came to an end. Centrica maintained the British Gas retail brand but is only allowed to use this brand name in the United Kingdom. The electricity market also opened up to competition and, through the British Gas brand, the company started supplying its first domestic electricity customers.
1998 to 2010
At the end of 1998, under CEO Sir Roy Gardner and Finance Director Mark Clare, Centrica attempted to diversify – firstly by developing the Goldfish credit card, then in July 1999, by acquiring the AA for £1.1 billion. In July 2001, Centrica further diversified with the opportunistic purchase of the UK residential telecoms business of Australia's One.Tel.Centrica also moved into the North American energy supply market, through the acquisition of the Canada-based company Direct Energy in July 2000, for £406 million. Direct Energy's operations were subsequently considerably expanded through a number of further acquisitions, including of Enbridge Services for £437 million in January 2002.This strategy of diversification changed in the middle of 2003, possibly under pressure from major city shareholders to deliver better returns and/or possibly anticipating pressure on the core energy supply business. The change started with the sale of the Goldfish business to Lloyds TSB .Then, in July 2004, Centrica sold the AA to two private equity firms; Luxembourgish CVC and British Permira for £1.75 billion. In December 2005, Centrica sold their OneTel business to Carphone Warehouse. However, in October 2004 Centrica paid £57 million for Dyno-Rod, the emergency drainage franchiser, who had previously been contracted to carry out work for Centrica's customers who had bought drain and plumbing insurance.From 2005, Centrica declared a strategy of consolidating within the energy sector, upstream and downstream, including expanding operations overseas. New chairman Roger Carr replaced retiring chairman Sir Michael Perry in 2005, whilst new CEO Sam Laidlaw picked up the reins from retiring CEO Sir Roy Gardner in March 2006.In January 2006, it was rumoured that the Russian state-owned utility company Gazprom was seeking a takeover of Centrica. This created controversy in the media, while the Department for Trade and Industry stated any deal would be subject to "intense scrutiny". Tony Blair announced in April that he would not block any potential deal.In September 2008, the company acquired the Caythorpe gas producing field near Bridlington to use for storage purposes. It also agreed to buy 20% of British Energy from EDF, financing this with a £2.2 billion, 3 for 8 rights issue. The rights issue offered shares at 160 pence per share and closed on 12 December 2008. In August 2009, Centrica took over Venture Production, a North Sea gas producer.
2010 to 2019
On 13 June 2010 Centrica, through Direct Energy, acquired Clockwork Home Services. Combining with the existing energy offer made Centrica the largest provider of heating and cooling, plumbing and electrical services in North America. On 17 November 2010, Centrica acquired the assets of heat pump installation company Cool Planet Technologies Ltd. for £0.5 million in cash. This aimed to boost the company's strategy of developing a broad range of low carbon technologies and advice.In February 2012, Centrica signed a £2 billion three-year contract with Qatargas for the purchase of 2.4 million tonnes a year of liquefied natural gas. In March 2011, Centrica agreed the sale of the electricity and gas supply business of its Netherlands based subsidiary Oxxio to Eneco BV for €72 million in cash. The sale completed Centrica's exit from the supply of electricity and gas in Continental Europe, following the earlier disposal of its supply businesses in Belgium and Spain.In November 2011, Centrica agreed to buy $1.6 billion stakes of eight fields on the Norwegian continental shelf from Statoil ASA. In a second deal, Centrica agreed to buy five billion cubic meters a year gas from the same company from 2015 to 2025 as equal to 5% of gas consumption in the United Kingdom. Centrica's Germany based trading division Centrica Energie GmbH was closed in April 2012.In July 2013, it was announced that Centrica would acquire the energy marketing unit of Hess Corporation for $1.03 billion. In March 2014, Centrica acquired the retail arm and other assets belonging to Ireland's state owned Bord Gáis for a fee of around €1.1 billion. In 2010, Centrica entered into joint venture arrangements with Tullow Oil to explore for oil in the South Lokichar Basin in Kenya.In August 2014, Tullow, the operator, revealed significant oil discoveries had been made in the Etom 1 exploration well and testing block 10BB, which expanded the already proven South Lokichar Basin "significantly northwards," taking in an additional 247 km2. In September 2013, Centrica established Hive as part of its Connected Home offering, building on its Remote Heating Control service provided through its British Gas subsidiary.In February 2015, in light of significantly changed circumstances, a fundamental strategic review was launched. This focused on outlook and sources of growth; portfolio mix and capital intensity; operating capability and efficiency; and group financial framework. The review was a detailed analysis of the group's prospects, led by Centrica's senior management. It concluded that Centrica's strength lay in being a customer-facing business and that all activities and priorities would focus on meeting customers' changing needs. The shape of the group would be reworked to reflect this, including one group-wide efficiency programme that would reduce employee numbers by around 6,000.Also in February 2015, under its British Gas brand, Centrica completed the acquisition of AlertMe, a connected home company based in the United Kingdom that provided innovative energy management products and services. In November 2015, Direct Energy also acquired Panoramic Power, a provider of device-level energy management technology, for $60 million .In April 2016, Centrica acquired Neas Energy A/S , one of Europe's providers of energy management and revenue optimisation services for decentralised third-party owned assets. It also acquired ENER-G Cogen International Limited , an established supplier and operator of combined heat and power systems and REstore NV, Europe's demand response aggregator.In June 2017, it was announced that the CQ Energy Canada Partnership, the Canadian exploration and production joint venture in which Centrica owned a 60% interest, was to be sold to a consortium comprising MIE Holdings Corporation, The Can-China Global Resource Fund and Mercuria for a purchase price of C$722 million in cash.On 21 June 2017, the company agreed to sell its operational Langage and South Humber Bank combined cycle gas turbine power stations, with a combined capacity of 2.3GW, to EP UK Investments Ltd for £318million in cash.On 11 December 2017, Centrica combined its North Sea exploration & production business with Bayerngas Norge, to form a joint venture named Spirit Energy with the German, Austrian and Swiss owners of Bayerngas, led by German energy and infrastructure firm Stadtwerke München .In December 2017, the Competition & Markets Authority agreed to grant Centrica plc and Centrica Storage Limited's request to be released from the Rough Undertakings. CSL decided that it could no longer operate Rough as a storage facility as the facility was no longer capable of safe injection operations due to its age and condition and that due to the economics of seasonal storage, neither refurbishing or rebuilding the facility would be cost-effective.The British Gas brand lost 750,000 domestic customers in 2017 amid intense competition, contributing to a February 2018 announcement that 4,000 jobs would be cut. Centrica cut its dividend in July 2019, after making a loss of £446 million in the prior six months.
In the spring of 2020, following the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, offices and factories shut and energy use decreased sharply, and the financial problems caused by the pandemic among Centrica's customers were expected to lead to bad debts. Analysts dropped their estimate of Centrica's earnings for 2020, 2021, and 2022 by 30%, and Centrica paused its search for a buyer for its 69% stake in Spirit Energy. The share price in April reached a record low of £0.30, valuing the company at less than half of its net debt of nearly £4bn. In June 2020, Centrica's shares were moved from the FTSE 100 to the FTSE 250 Index. The same month, the company announced that it would cut 5,000 jobs, half of them from leadership, management and corporate departments. In 2020 Centrica employed about 27,000 people, with 20,000 based in the UK. The employee cuts are to be a result of a restructuring plan designed to simplify and create a smaller group that is focused on delivery to their customers. British Gas engineers employed by Centrica began a strike in January 2021, which was extended into February, and was eventually called off by the GMB union after 44 days of strike action, after members endorsed a new pay deal.In July 2020, Centrica announced the sale of its subsidiary of Direct Energy in North America for $3.63 billion to NRG Energy, in order to put more focus into its home markets. The money from the sale is to be put to the reduction of net debt and to the contribution of pension plans.On 1 June 2022, it was announced that it will be promoted from the FTSE 250, and became a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index effective on 20 June.
Mr. Raj Roy (Group Gen. Counsel & Company Sec.)
Ms. Jill Shedden M.B.E., MBE (Chief People Officer)
Mr. Carl Bayliss (Head of Mobility & Home Energy Management)
Jim Rushen (Group Head of Environment)
Rob Simister (Head of Fleet - British Gas)
Recognition and Awards
Martyn Espley (Head of Investor Relations)
Mr. Chris O'Shea (Group Chief Exec. & Exec. Director)
Ms. Kate Ringrose (Group CFO & Exec. Director)