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Extraenergy to create 1,000 city jobs to take on 'big six'

Company which has signed up two million German customers since 2010 now eyeing UK market and a new large base in Birmingham

Geoff Childs, managing director of Extraenergy which is now looking to hire 1,000 staff for a new base in Birmingham

Up to 1,000 jobs will be created in Birmingham by a company vowing to take on Britain's "big six" energy groups.

Extraenergy, backed by a multi-billion pound group of investors in Germany, is creating the roles as part of plans to attract 800,000 customers in little more than a year.

The company has already created 280 posts in a matter of months and is set to move to a giant office in the city with 1,000 staff within 12 months.

It has courted national headlines with ambitious plans to break up the British gas and electricity sector which is dominated by just six companies - after signing up two million customers in Germany since 2010.

Managing director Geoff Childs said Extraenergy scoured the UK for the right place to base its headquarters before opting for Birmingham and says the credentials are there to break up the big six.

He told the Post : "You need a lot of investment in terms of cash to come into this marketplace. At the moment there are the big six suppliers who have 95 per cent of the market.

"But we label ourselves as a technology company. Other sectors we are involved with are insurance, telecommunications and travel and because of that we use a lot of automation which will help us to be competitive in the marketplace.

"The big six are quite large organisations and face a big challenge of trying to be efficient in what they are doing."

The new roles being created are largely in telemarketing, customer services and credit management.

They are imminent, with the company in "advanced stages" of talks about a new headquarters.

While Mr Childs said he was unable to reveal the location, he said it would be in the city centre.

The deal is expected to see the company take 35,000 sq ft of commercial office space, offering the potential for yet more expansion.

The firm has been trialling its service in Britain since March and currently employs 280 staff at its interim office in Teleperformance House, in Hagley Road, near Five Ways.

However, Mr Childs says he expects to have a workforce of more than 500 by Christmas and 1,000 within the next 12 months.

Against a fiery backdrop in the UK – Labour leader Ed Miliband has pledged to freeze energy bills if he comes to power – the company plans to replicate success in Germany, where it is the fastest growing energy supplier.

The group claims to be able to undercut the big six – British Gas, E.On, Npower, SSE, EDF and ScottishPower – by having more up-to-date computer systems, with potential savings of about £290 on a dual fuel bill.

Mr Childs, who is from Solihull, said his roots played no part in the decision to base the firm here.

He said: "There were a lot of options on the table. I was one of the first people in the UK recruited and drew up a list of potential cities. There are a number of call centre cities – Manchester, Leeds, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Swansea and in Northern Ireland.

"Birmingham was the most competitive – it is not just because I grew up in Solihull. People forget Birmingham is the UK's Second City. The company has an office in Dusseldorf and I have found I can get to Dusseldorf quicker than I can get to London from here."

The move will boost Birmingham's foreign direct investment (FDI) data after the wider region was named the best-performing in England last year.

The number of FDI projects in the area rose by 57 per cent to 77, and the number of jobs created almost doubled to 4,841.

Sir Albert Bore, leader of Birmingham City Council, said attracting Extraenergy vindicated the city's strategy.

He said: "The city's inward investment strategy, which focuses on sectors where we have real strength and growth opportunities, is really building momentum. Today's news demonstrates our ability to compete – on talent, on property and on the support the city can offer new investors.

"Extraenergy is a challenger in its marketplace and Birmingham is now the same. We can compete with some of the biggest business centres in the world and we have ambitions to do just that."

Wouter Schuitemaker, investment director at Business Birmingham, the city's inward investment programme, which worked directly with Extraenergy said the move was endorsement of the city's skill base.

He said: "As a challenger brand, with the ability to make an impact in a highly contested industry, Birmingham had to beat off stiff competition to bring Extraenergy to the city.

"In choosing Birmingham, Extraenergy is reinforcing our growing position as the UK's most exciting investment location."

 
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