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Mark Bower

Mark founded MoneyMaxim in 2008, with the aim of delivering an impartial and independent service. Mark is a regular money saving expert in the press and writes regular news and articles for the MoneyMaxim news pages sharing his views on banking, personal insurance and the utilities (gas, electricity, mobile and home phones, broadband and pay TV) market with customers.

Co-operative Energy – will they break into the Energy Market?

Co-operative Energy set out their aim to become an energy giant promising fairer pricing, clearer bills and no 'hard selling' - sounds great news for customers.

The Co-op has launched its own brand gas and electricity service in an attempt to break into the ‘Big Six' energy supplier group.

With a promise not to adopt many of the practices currently detested by consumers, including confusing bills, penalties for switching and hard sell on the doorstep Nigel Mason, chief executive of Co-operative Energy has stated that the group believes it can provide a better service than those currently offered by the ‘Big Six', namely British Gas, E.ON, EDF, npower, ScottishPower and Scottish and Southern.

"It's something we've been looking at for a long time,” he said. "The Co-op tends to do these things thoroughly. We obviously thought the energy market wasn't working efficiently for consumers, which is something Ofgem had been delving into deeply and coming up with more remedies.

"Our own analysis is that the market seems to be sewn up by the big six. Really not much has changed in the way of attracting new entrants apart from the proliferation of products and tariffs which have an opposite effect of confusing consumers. We need to galvanise people into taking more interest in switching.

"If the effect of our entry is improving the market that's a good thing. We're in this for business reasons but the Co-op can have a campaigning role as well as we're owned by our members. We'd like to be part of the big seven some time in the future.”

Mark Bower, Managing Director of MoneyMaxim said: "It will be very good news for consumers if the Co-operative do establish themselves in the market – other smaller brands have tried to but have not been able to grow a critical mass of customers, mainly due to the financial investment required to buy fuel in advance'. If the Co-operative have the financial muscle to grow a significant customer base they can undoubtedly become a ‘player”.

"What will be important though is that their tariff is competitive in ‘price comparison' terms – as in our experience customers rarely go beyond the top half dozen or so companies when it comes to switching. Customers can quickly check if the Co-operative Energy proposition is better for them by running a quotation through the totally impartial MoneyMaxim energy comparison service.

"The only concern we do have is that the company say they will not be offering fixed price contracts – and sometimes they can be welcome reassurance for customers who want to ensure they can afford to heat their home at a time of rising energy prices.”

Both Consumer Focus and Ofgem have welcomed the move mentioning the benefits of having a major firm promising to clean up some of the practices they have been commenting on over the past months, and enhancing competition in the market.