Centrica’s board of directors faced a grilling from its shareholders at its recent annual meeting over the company’s poor performance and resulting decline in stock price.
Over the course of four years, shareholders have seen the value of their holdings lose half their value as British Gas has been hit by a number of external factors, including the 2014 oil crash, intense competition and political pressure.
A weak performance from the North American division in 2017 also had a negative impact on share and delivered a negative blow of confidence in management.
The company was one of the first to be privatised in the 1980s and now has around 650,000 private investors.
One investor, John Farmer, said: “Isn’t Centrica too sluggish, too ponderous… when will you at last perform and deliver a positive, sustained result for your shareholders?”
Rick Haythornthwaite, Centrica’s chairman, is set to step down by next year’s meeting and conceded that it had been a “difficult year”, but defended the performance of the executive team, stating the poor price performance had made them more determined to succeed.
According to Haythornthwaite, the team had “offered explanations, not excuses for the poor performance issues in our business divisions.”
Across the wider sector uncertainty continues over the forthcoming price cap on standard variable tariffs (SVTs) – the most common household energy tariff, which 3.8 million Centrica customers are on.