The Co-op is the latest food retailer to consider selling gas and
electricity alongside groceries in its nationwide network of stores.
Discussions are taking place at the Co-operative Wholesale Society, the
Co-op movement’s single largest group with 700 stores, on the
introduction of a service by the end of the year.
If the CWS goes ahead with the plans, it will be the last of the big
retailers to recognise customer demand for services to be offered
alongside their normal shopping requirements.
A CWS spokesman said: ’We are definitely looking into it. As yet, no
hard and fast decision has been taken. If it were to go ahead then it
would probably take place within the retail framework.’
From April 1 the supply monopolies controlling the domestic markets will
be opened up to competition, allowing companies such as Sainsbury’s and
Tesco to sell these energy forms.
Retailers would be able to shop around to obtain the best deal on
Supplies would arrive at the consumer’s home in the usual way but
charging would be made by the supplying source to the retailer, which
would then bill the customer.
The sale of gas and electricity is a further example of the big
supermarket chains extending their offer into new areas. Last year saw
the launch of financial and travel services by supermarket groups.
Watchdog Ofgas estimates that a number of new players will enter the
market. The first phase of the new scheme, which took place in the south
using the nine new gas companies, saved customers pounds 70 a year on
the average gas bill, claimed Ofgas.