Ian Marchant announces his departure from SSE as the big six energy companies battle to restore the trust of consumers
Energy company SSE is to lose its chief executive as the big six firms in the sector battle to restore trust with consumers over high prices, doorstep mis-selling and wider industry allegations of gas market manipulation.
Ian Marchant said on Wednesday that “the time is right for a change for both SSE and me”. He said he would stand down this summer to be replaced by his current deputy, Alistair Phillips-Davies.
One of the more colourful and outspoken energy bosses, Marchant has run the company since 2002 and has successfully steered it towards becoming one of the country’s biggest energy producers and a major investor in wind farms as well as coal and gas plants. SSE owns Southern Electric, Swalec and Scottish Hydro and has 5 million electricity customers and 3.4 million gas customers.
The company has created a stir by selling out of its NuGen atomic power consortium with GDF Suez, and by announcing an increase of nearly 40% in first half profits – just a month after putting up gas and electricity prices by 9%.
Like the other big six firms, SSE has always denied any sharp practise in a wholesale gas market which is currently being investigated by the Financial Services Authority and the energy regulator Ofgem.
Marchant said he had thoroughly enjoyed his time at SSE and was convinced the business would go “from strength to strength”.
The 51-year-old has made it clear internally that while he was not seeking another big executive job, he was open to doing more than his current non-executive role at the John Wood Group.
Marchant, who earned just over £1m last year, will not receive a payoff when he leaves, SSE said.