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OVO Perth and Dunfermline closure: Everything we know so far as energy giant axes offices and cuts jobs

The Ovo building
Ovo Energy is to cut a quarter of its workforce and close its Perth office.

OVO Energy is to close offices in Perth and Dunfermline and cut 1,700 jobs – a quarter of its workforce – across the UK.

That includes more than 200 staff at its Perth base.

The energy giant, which was formed by current chief executive Stephen Fitzpatrick in 2009, currently employs 6,200 workers.

About 700 employees work at the Perth site, with more OVO offices in Dunfermline.

There will be a total of 222 job losses at OVO Energy in Perth, it has been confirmed.

The SSE office at the Perth site is unaffected.

Here is everything we know so far.

1 – How were staff told about office closures?

Sky News first broke the news that OVO is expected to make an announcement about the redundancies.

With the majority of staff currently working from home, but OVO shut its phone lines and a message told callers that workers were being updated about “some important news”.

2 – Why is OVO closing its Perth and Dunfermline bases?

OVO plans to close its Perth and Dunfermline offices and consolidate operations into three offices across the UK.

Those will be in London, Bristol and Glasgow.

Local politicians held a meeting with OVO bosses, but it was described as  “hugely disappointing”.

The politicians say it appears the energy company did not even consider making Perth its Scottish hub.

The SSE/OVO base in Perth.
The SSE/OVO base in Perth.

It has been suggested that employees will be allocated to one of these new hubs if they live within 30 miles.

That is unlikely to benefit the majority of the Perth workforce.

It comes as the firm faced criticism for telling customers to cuddle their pets to keep warm this winter.

3 – What have locals said about the decision?

One OVO employee told The Courier: “I think there is a bit of shock in all honesty.

“People have always perhaps expected there to be something coming along but not necessarily to this extent.

“1,700 is still a huge amount of staff in the organisation across the UK, which is approximately one in four.”

The plans have also sparked fears about the impact on the local economy.

There is concern about the local economic impact of OVO’s decision to close its base n Perth

Ellen Bauchope, manager of Mhor Coffee, said: “I feel the closure of local branches of big businesses not only impacts jobs in the immediate sense, but will also reduce footfall for local businesses such as us.

“We have been forced to open later due to the local offices working remotely, and no doubt trade will drop further.

“It’s a very sad thing for everyone involved.”

Perth resident Elizabeth Davies said: “It’s really devastating for the Perth economy.

“What are these poor people going to do? What a time to think about losing your job.

“It’s really sickening to be honest.”

Ryan Atkinson added: “My pals work there and it’s really bad.

“Everyone is freaking out and not sure what to do.”

4 – How have politicians and unions reacted?

A series of meetings have taken place between Perthshire politicians and OVO bosses.

The first of those meetings was described as “disappointing” as OVO founder Stephen Fitzpatrick failed to make himself available.

The meetings involved John Swinney, MSP for Perthshire North, and Jim Fairlie, MSP for Perthshire South and Kinross-shire.

Pete Wishart, MP for Perth and North Perthshire, also joined the meeting.

They met virtually with Adrian Letts, chief executive of OVO’s retail arm.

After Mr Letts confirmed the 222 job losses, Mr Swinney said this would have a “potentially serious impact” on the local Perthshire economy.

All three added they want to make sure the Perth OVO office, which housed 700 people before the coronavirus pandemic, is not “left to rot”.

Mr Letts also said a high uptake of voluntary redundancies means no further compulsory redundancies are expected.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said in January the Scottish Government would do “everything they possibly can” to reverse the decision.

Pete Wishart, MP for Perth and North Perthshire.

Mr Wishart called for OVO Energy to give assurances £40 million of loans and cash transfers could not have been spent on saving hundreds of jobs.

5 – What has OVO said about jobs in Perth since it acquired retail arm of SSE?

OVO said it was “committed” to Scotland in response to claims from local politicians that the firm was unable to offer any clarification on where the redundancies will be.

A spokesperson for OVO said: “Scotland is a great place for our business, which is why we’re making it an operational centre of excellence, and one of our three office locations.

“We are opening a new OVO academy in Glasgow, creating opportunities in the city that hosted COP26, for those who want to be at the forefront of the UK’s green revolution.

“While we’re closing some of our offices, there is an opportunity for remote working.

“The pandemic has changed the way we work, and many of our offices are underused with people already working remotely.

“We’re committed to investing in Scotland – creating higher skilled, better paid jobs in Scotland.”

OVO Energy bought over the retail arm of SSE in January 2020.

At the time, the company gave assurances that “nothing would change” for Perth staff.

Stephen Fitzpatrick, chief executive and founder of OVO Energy.
Stephen Fitzpatrick, chief executive and founder of OVO Energy.

However, it backtracked only four months later and hundreds were laid off in May 2020.

OVO blamed the Covid-19 pandemic for “accelerating its integration plans” as it opened a voluntary redundancy programme for 2,600 jobs.

At the time, OVO claimed it would maintain a “significant workforce” in Perth.

OVO Energy announces 222 job losses in Perth

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