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Special Report

Making water work: the Scottish experience


n the eight years since Scotland became the world’s first competitive non-domestic water market, customers of the largest provider, Business Stream, have saved more than £160m. However, the changes go much deeper than that, with competition driving a new complementary market of water-saving products and services, as well an unprecedented focus on customer service. As part of Scottish Water, Business Stream was operating on day one of the Scottish market opening in 2008. That gives it a unique perspective on competition in England, which is due to begin in April 2017. Commercial Director James Cardwell-Moore says the industry has come a long way since those early days: “It’s been an incredible evolution in Scotland for what has generally been a traditional and fairly conventional utility sector. The market used to be all about unit cost but competition has changed that completely. Yes, the bottom line still matters, but our customers are placing a lot more emphasis on service and help to

reduce consumption and be more efficient. . We’re increasingly being approached for bespoke solutions to tackle with business problems or support growth ambitions and our model has evolved to fulfil that demand.” Since 2008, Business Stream’s offering has grown to around 60 services, covering estate-wide usage audits to borehole drilling. It is also trying to educate customers that water management should be taken as seriously as energy efficiency, from sole traders looking to reduce their overheads to heavily-regulated industrial plants producing potentially harmful effluent. As well as actual financial savings including £53 million in water efficiency savings, more than £99 million in discounts and £7 million in energy efficiency savings, Business Stream’s customers in Scotland have reduced water consumption by 24 billion litres. Cardwell-Moore adds: “What we say to businesses is that they need to look at what else their supplier can do for them. Competition has driven down cost in Scotland, and the margins in England for

next year have been set quite low by Ofwat, so there’s not as much scope for discounts. To really benefit from the option to switch, customers need to find a supplier that can help them reduce and manage their water and wastewater more efficiently. Thankfully for us, that’s something we’ve had eight years’ experience of excelling at and we’re fortunate that our track record means we’re now a trusted partner to many of our clients, not just another utility provider.” Having been one of the main advocates for greater competition based on its experience, Business Stream is well placed for next year. It already counts House of Fraser among its UK customers and has recently secured a major foothold in the English market with the purchase of 105,000 non-domestic customers from Southern Water which will make it the third largest provider. Cardwell-Moore concludes: “This is a really exciting time now that we’re counting down to competition in England in April. Our new scale in the market will help us to invest and innovate even further, benefiting our customers north and south of the border.”

One Planet, One Team Improving efficiency across House of Fraser’s 60 stores

THE CHALLENGE House of Fraser’s ‘One Planet, One Team’ strategy had already brought about sustainability benefits across its 60 stores, but the retailer wanted to improve its water efficiency further, reducing costs in the process. Who better to assist than Business Stream who’d already worked successfully with the company in Scotland.

THE SOLUTION We installed automated meter readers (AMRs) into a number of stores across England to record meter readings and flow rates remotely and in real-time. As a result, invoices are based on AMR data, which is more accurate than conventional meter reading, allowing the company to benchmark the performance of stores. The AMRs also helped to identify inefficiencies and monitor the progress of any remedial or efficiency measures introduced.


We made it simpler for House of Fraser by introducing consolidated billing for the 11 stores supplied water by us. This meant they received with a single, itemised statement. A bill validation exercise was carried out to ensure the accuracy of historic water billing for all of the organisation’s sites across England, identifying any charges billed in error by previous suppliers for cost recovery. An overall water management strategy was also developed to help improve control and reduce water consumption, including sub-metering and the introduction of water saving devices.


House of Fraser now has a better understanding of its water usage, which in turn has enabled the company to reduce environmental impact and cut costs The accurate readings provided by

Energy Manager Magazine • january/february 2017

House of Fraser’s AMRs mean the number of estimated bills is reduced, providing greater certainty about usage levels and costs The consolidated billing covering the 11 stores supplied by Business Stream has reduced management time in reviewing and processing invoices We are supporting them with their long term aim to completely remove estimated readings from the billing process The ability to detect leaks has further helped House of Fraser to minimise the time and costs involved in identifying and fixing problems Speak to our team of experts by visiting business-stream.

Energy Manager Magazine Jan/Feb 2017