Fresh Thinking Hub

The year that changed the Water Industry

...and what to expect from the future

Day 2 at the RWM (Water) Event certainly didn’t see things slowing down for Water Plus. Our Head of Business Development, Stuart Henderson presented to a full audience in the Utilities Keynote theatre taking a look back at what has undoubtedly been a momentous year in the water industry and what customers should be looking to do to prepare for the future. 
“On the 1st April 2017 the largest competitive water market in the world opened for business”

Stuart started by taking a look back at what was an incredibly busy year preparing for market opening. This involved the likes of MOSL, the market operator, testing out its processes with wholesalers and retailers uploading data, using new forms and the market system, the incumbent water companies were preparing to ‘retail exit’ the market, and the retail suppliers were getting ready to formally ‘enter’ the market – making sure their processes were in order and refining their retail strategies.

A key stage in this activity was a phased called ‘shadow operations’, which ran for the 6 months prior to the market opening, allowing all those involved to test their processes and systems to iron out any potential wrinkles’ prior to the market opening. Stuart explained that retailers such as ourselves had to get ready to commence switching, develop the new business and brand and ensure our IT systems were shaped to meet new market requirements. Needless to say it was an intense and exciting time for everyone involved. 

And, the 1st April came and we made it. 

Take a look at what we got up to on our first day open for business.

So, where are we today? 

Well, for Water Plus Stuart explained, we’re based in Stoke-on-Trent, we’ve developed and embedded our corporate identity, we’ve transitioned our customers from the from legacy systems – that’s around 360,000 customers - and we’re actively negotiating with customers and switching new ones across to Water Plus. In fact, more large organisations have chosen to join Water Plus than any other retailer. 

In terms of the market, simply put, the market now operates very much like other utilities, such as gas, electricity and telecoms. The wholesaler provides water and wastewater services to retailers, who then sell these services onto business customers. 

Wholesalers are responsible for: 

Retailers are responsible for: 

Read our blog by our Head of Contract Management, to find out about the roles and responsibilities of the wholesaler and retailer. 

Stuart-s-presentation-cropped.PNGAs well as the core services, some retailers offer a range of value added services such as water efficiency, smart metering, and leak detection and repair. However, not all retailers will provide these services. Stuart’s advice – “Do your research, think about what’s important to you as a customer and align yourself to a retail partner who can provide what you need.” 

Stuart highlighted that with market opening there were a number of benefits and opportunities for customers:


He explained that in many ways it’s most important for customers to understand that they now have a choice. Go out to the market and negotiate a better deal. Margins are low so make sure you align yourself with a partner that can do more to help you save than just offer you the lowest cost. 

Supplier consolidation

Multi-site customers, why would you want to potentially deal with twenty or so water suppliers when you could deal with just one retailer? Let your retailer handle the complexity and administration of dealing with multiple suppliers for you. One bill in the format you want, one contract and one point of contact.  

Tariff optimisation 

As part of switching and onboarding most retailers will work to correct any site charging errors and pass relevant savings back to you. 

Reducing water usage

Optimise your water usage by working with a water partner that can:

In many cases you will make the most cost savings through reducing and proactively monitoring water consumption. 

Getting ready to switch 

Finally, Stuart spoke about what his advice would be to a business getting ready to switch retailers or looking at what the market has to offer. 

  1. Understand the market – what does the change mean and what affect does it have on your business?

  2. Evaluate your data and ensure its accuracy – how many sites do you have? What is the consumption of each site? Where are your meters located? 

  3. Understand your options – remember, you have a choice. Margins are tight. Don’t make a choice based on costs alone. Think about what it is your business values, and align yourself with a partner who can provide this for you.

  4. Look into methods of saving – water efficiency, early leak detection through AMR installation and contingency planning. Speak to retailers and find out what they can do for you. 

  5. Be ready – make sure you have the governance in place so if/when the times comes to switch you are ready. 

Doing this will help you understand your business needs and shape what you expect from a retailer.

In addition to this presentation, we hosted an additional three speaking slots over the course of the event, including

Click here to take a look at all the event highlights including these talks.   

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