French utility EDF launches new retail offer to fend off rivals

French utility EDF launches new retail offer to fend off rivals
FILE PHOTO: The logo of EDF (Electricite de France) is seen on the French state-controlled utility EDF's headquarters in Paris, France, February 15, 2019. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo -
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PARIS (Reuters) – State-controlled utility EDF plans to sign up one million clients to its market-based retail offer in the French electricity market as it steps up the fight back against rivals such as Total, Engie and Eni.

EDF on Tuesday launched a new retail offer which it said would enable clients pay up to 30% percent less in electricity prices compared to regulated tariffs, during weekends, bank holidays and another day of the week chosen by the client.

It would also offer energy management services through connected applications to help clients cut power consumption.

More than a decade after the French retail electricity market was liberalised, EDF is increasingly facing stiff competition from major energy and consumer retail companies that have launched competitive offers in the French power market.

The former monopoly has been losing around 100,000 clients every month, or over 1 million clients last year to rivals, according to data by French energy market regulator CRE.

EDF’s competitors include Total, which bought alternative supplier Directe Energie for $1.7 in 2017, to become the third biggest player in the market behind EDF and Engie. Italy’s Eni, Vattenfall, French retail giants Casino and Leclerc are also in the market.

The rivals have launched competitive retail offers, some as much as 10% to 20% below regulated tariffs paid to EDF. Regulated tariffs rose 5.9% in June.

However, EDF remains the market leader with over 78% share of the residential retail market. Some 25.3 million clients are still tied to the regulated tariffs.

“We are resisting well. Twelve years after the liberalisation of the market, we are still the market leader,” EDF’s director of consumer markets Fabrice Gourdellier, told journalists.

Gourdellier said EDF was not going to proactively convert clients from regulated tariffs to its market-based prices, but expected their offer, which is targeting an increasing number of households with flexible working hours, to draw more clients.

“We developed this offer because the market is becoming increasingly competitive,” Gourdellier said.

He added that EDF aimed to sign one million clients on all its market-based price offers by the end of 2020 from 300,000 currently and would hit the target a year earlier than expected.

(Reporting by Bate Felix and Benjamin Mallet; editing by David Evans)

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