Six weeks to retail market opening

It’s all systems go in the new water retail market as the countdown to competition begins. In just six weeks’ time an estimated 1.2 million eligible non household customers in England will be able to choose who they buy their water and waste water services from, just like they do with their gas and electricity retail service.

Retail services include billing, metering and customer service activities. The water retail market is open to businesses, charities and public sector organisations with premises that qualify, which usually means they are used mainly for business. For a quick check to see if your businesses qualifies visit

Switching to a new retailer does not mean that water coming from taps will be any different as it will continue to be provided by the existing water supply company, who will act as a wholesaler. If you live in the Bristol area then Bristol Water will still be responsible for sourcing, transporting and treating your water. Likewise, Wessex Water will still be your waste water wholesaler.

In the new market, water and waste water wholesalers will get paid by the retailer for the services they provide. Opening up competition in the water market gives customers choice, and retailers will compete to attract and retain customers by offering better deals and more tailored services, such as single bills for multiple sites or bundling water with other utilities.

From April, eligible non household customers will be able to switch or renegotiate a deal with their existing supplier that best suits their needs.

Bristol Water’s Customer Services Director Ben Newby said: “We’re focused on ensuring our organisation is ready for wholesale activities when they start in a few weeks’ time. This new market has required us to make important changes to the way we work and we’re looking towards April when the market opens and talking to other market participants to allow us to react to whatever challenges the market presents.

In just two weeks’ time, we will start to receive notifications of customers who are switching to new retailers so the market will come alive very shortly. Although the scale of switching is difficult to accurately predict at present, we are considering the natural lifecycle of switching and what outcomes are likely to occur to ensure we are in a strong position to respond to market demands.

We recognise the importance of communication and maximising the awareness of the new market arrangements to the business community, and would direct anyone reading this to the Open Water website to find out more and check their eligibility.”