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  • by Karma Loveday

English retail market sees first failure as Aquaflow's licences revoked

The first retailer failure in the English water market was confirmed last week when Ofwat revoked the water and sewerage licences of Aquaflow Utilities, after the company became insolvent.

The regulator explained it received evidence from Aquaflow last Monday (25 March) that it has been unable to pay its debts since 19 March and was no longer carrying out its customer facing functions. Ofwat gave 24 jours notice on Wednesday of the revocation, which took place on Thursday.

Aquaflow’s 74 customers will be reallocated to a new supplier without any disruption to their supply under the Interim Supply Code. Mike Keil, head of policy and research at the Consumer Council for Water, said: “We want to reassure Aquaflow customers that there are market safeguards in place to protect them in these circumstances and we’re here to make sure they are not disadvantaged. It’s important to stress to customers that their water and wastewater services will not be affected.”

Ofwat senior director of customers and casework Emma Kelso said: “We are working alongside the Market Operator MOSL to allocate customers to a new retailer as quickly as possible. They will contact affected customers shortly after being appointed.

“Of course, it is always difficult to see a company fail, but this is the market in action. Not all retailers will thrive and it is possible that, in the future, others will leave the market too. As the market structures evolve, we will continue to make sure that customers are protected and continue to benefit from competition.”

Aquaflow secured the licences on 4 January 2018. Among its creditors are water wholesalers who were not paid April invoices due by 18 March.

• Ofwat also revoked the sewerage licence of South East Water on Friday following a request from the company. South East ceased to provide sewerage services after exiting the non-household market and transferring its sewerage provision responsibilities to Invicta Water on 1 May 2018. Invicta’s customers were subsequently sold to Castle Water.

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