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Current as of 30/05/17 01:40PM NZST
Matthew Theunissen is a business reporter

Vocus to sell energy from this month

Vocus chief executive Mark Callander says his company will start offering discounted broadband and power bundles from this month. Photo / Getty Images.
Vocus chief executive Mark Callander says his company will start offering discounted broadband and power bundles from this month. Photo / Getty Images.

Some 50,000 Slingshot customers will be offered power to go along with their broadband this month as the company branches into new territory.

Vocus Group, which owns Slingshot, Flip and Orcon purchased a small power company, Switch Utilities, in December last year, with the promise of being able to offer customers internet and energy on the same bill.

Vocus chief executive Mark Callander said about 50,000 customers from the Slingshot arm of the business would be offered broadband-energy bundles over a couple of months from March 13.

"Shortly after the launch, once we've tested that everything's working as planned and we've assessed how fantastic the offer is and the uptake is, we'll extend it nationwide after that."

Pricing structures were still being finalised but Callander said they'd have to give customers a reason to take up the offer.

"We're a challenger brand and Slingshot's always firmly been in the value proposition of the market so we're well aware that we're going to have to give customers an incentive to move.

"So while we'll deliver on the experience side from a service perspective, we'll absolutely be making sure that customers are saving money as part of the bundle."

Vocus has taken on 25 staff from Switch and Callander said its call centre staff were being trained to take power and broadband-related calls.

The company would remain a telco at its core and there were no plans to sell energy on a standalone basis.

Nonetheless, Callander said they aimed to offer vigorous competition for the big power companies, as well as their traditional telecommunication rivals.

While selling energy would be new to Vocus staff in New Zealand, its Australian parent company had been offering power bundles for some time, "so we're not going in blind", Callander said.

Currently, Trustpower is the only other company which offers broadband and energy packages in New Zealand.

Business and technology commentator Paul Spain said Vocus' bundles could put pressure on other telcos to offer more sweeteners.

"They're buying what I would say is quite a niche player in the power space - they have a much bigger retail presence than the company they're acquiring so they'll be able to leverage that presence to really add value to the acquisition.

"It also puts them in a position to be able to compete a little bit more strongly against some of the other players because really at the moment we've only got Trustpower," Spain said.

"You've got to have some pretty good offering you can drop into the market that makes you stand out."

- NZ Herald

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