By Lefteris Karagiannopoulos
LONDON (Reuters) - French power producer Engie <ENGIE.PA>, which entered the British retail market last year, will have a 100,000-strong customer base in the country by the end of 2018, a year that will also be more profitable, its UK chief told Reuters.
This year's exceptionally cold winter that caused power prices to reach records in Britain benefited many energy firms as electricity and fossil fuel revenues grew.
As a result, Engie grew its business in Britain and the company expects 2018 profit to exceed that of 2017 in the energy services business, its chief executive for UK and Ireland Wilfrid Petrie told Reuters on Tuesday.
"It is still a growing business ... In energy services business our profitability this year will increase," he said.
"We started from zero customers and by the end of the year we will have about 100,000," he added.
Britain's big six energy suppliers, controlling around 80 percent of the market are Centrica's <CNA.L> British Gas, SSE <SSE.L>, E.ON, EDF Energy <EDF.PA>, Innogy's <IGY.DE> Npower and Iberdrola's <IBE.MC> Scottish Power.
Earlier this month Engie launched a full-scale electric vehicle (EV) charging product in Britain, following a number of companies across Europe that are competing for market share, including Sweden's Vattenfall [VATN.UL].
Engie is targeting both households and business customers with its EV product, he said, but the company is not looking into acquiring or partnering other firms.
The firm has a total low carbon and renewable power generation capacity of 2.2 gigawatt (GW) in Britain, a spokeswoman said, and also has a 23 percent stake in the Moray East off-shore wind farm, a 1.1 GW project in Scotland, contracted to deliver energy from 2022.
(Reporting by Lefteris Karagiannopoulos; editing by David Evans)