Centrica, the parent company of British Gas, has splashed out £30m on Cheshire central heating business PH Jones Group.
The company is headquartered in Malpas and provides services to about 250,000 properties each year through its social housing business.
Centrica said the cash deal was a “major step” in British Gas’ strategy to build its social housing energy services business and help social housing providers across the UK to cut their residents’ energy use, carbon emissions and fuel bills.
It follows the announcement in September 2010 of a strategic partnership with Mears to jointly bid on repair and maintenance contracts in the social housing sector.
Betsy Bassis, managing director of British Gas Community Energy, said: “Social housing is a strategically important market for British Gas. It not only represents 20 per cent of Britain’s housing stock, but it is also an early adopter of energy efficiency and renewable technologies.”
PH Jones carries out more than 8,000 central heating installations every year through 28 contracts within the social housing sector. It employs about 850 people, of whom approximately 560 work in the social housing business.
The transaction does not include the company’s utility services business previously operated by PH Jones, which will be retained by the vendors.
Bassis added: “We are committed to creating a leading energy services business for the public sector and our focus is on growing successfully through a combination of strong organic growth and our partnership with Mears, one of the leading providers of repairs and maintenance in social housing.
“The acquisition of PH Jones significantly accelerates our growth strategy in social housing. PH Jones is a successful, profitable company in this sector and combining its strengths with those of British Gas will deliver important benefits for our customers.”
Social housing represents 20 per cent of the UK’s housing stock (about five million homes) and the sector is forecast to spend £3.5bn a year on energy services by 2012.
The market is forecast to grow further, driven by the growth of microgeneration and renewable heating resulting from government targets to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.