Interviews

General election 2015: Love Energy Savings CEO Phil Foster – I'm voting as...

8 min read

10 April 2015

Former editor

In the lead up to the general election on 7 May, when the British public will be selecting the next government, Real Business is asking business leaders up and down the country what kind of administration they would like to see in place. First up is Love Energy Savings CEO Phil Foster.

As part of our “I’m voting as…” series of articles, we’ll be showcasing some of the most exciting growth companies in the UK. Asking the leaders of these businesses how recent progress has been, what the future has in store and the policies they would like to see introduced, we hope it will provide a colourful look at a major demographic of the electorate – entrepreneurs and business owners.

Who are you and what does your business do?

I am Phil Foster, CEO of Love Energy Savings. Love Energy Savings is a price comparison website which specialises in helping business owners not only improve their profits through cost savings, but also help them save valuable time in the process of comparing and switching suppliers. 

In the last three years we have helped over 36,000 business save over £56m on energy bills – and that number continues to grow. We not only aim to provide business with information about the best tariff, but we are also committed to inspiring energy efficiency and green energy use – which is why we have launched our Love Energy Savings Awards this year to recognise those businesses and individuals which are going the extra mile to become more eco-friendly.

How has your business changed over the last five years?

Over the last few years, Love Energy Savings has become increasingly relevant to businesses. Energy prices have steadily been rising and are now roughly 80 per cent higher than five years ago. As a result my business has had to work harder to provide the service we promised. We have seen our team grow as more and more businesses come to us for advice and guidance. We have had to come up with new ways of working and become more open to advocating alternative energy sources. Personally I have become a lot more aware of how much energy our business uses on a day-to day basis.

What are your growth plans for the next five years?

The EU’s 2030 carbon emission targets, falling oil prices, potential price freezes and the debate over fracking means that the energy market will be entering into an era of increasing uncertainty. With utility share prices already upsetting the City, energy is increasingly becoming a hot topic. As a result I am seeing a real future for the services Love Energy Savings provides, but I also forsee challenges. In five years’ time I want us to become a leading voice in the energy sector, providing thought leadership and expert advice to businesses of all shapes and sizes. I want us to provide more than a financial service I want us to be an information service too.

Read more from our general election coverage:

What kind of government would you like to see elected?

I want to see a government who have long-term goals, not short-term solutions. My main concern is that in an election such as this one, where the race is so open, politicians will be reduced to pathetic point scoring and will neglect the need to plan for the future.

Currently I feel that a coalition is inevitable and so, with this in mind, I want to see a government which sees their time in government as a partnership and not a power struggle. I want to see policies with a future. Many SME’s are reluctant to take risks with their business because the future is so uncertain but I feel that a government with a coherent plan will give us the confidence to step outside our comfort zone and reach our full potential.

Do you think government in general is doing enough to support businesses of your size?

As a business based in the North-West, I have been impressed by the time and effort this government have put into the “Northern Powerhouse”. By expressing confidence in the northern economy it has reinvigorated businesses in the area to aim higher knowing that the government isn’t as London-centric as previously thought. 

The investment in infrastructure and education has meant that wheels have been put in motion to help the north recover from previous adversity. I feel that the current government have been putting economic recovery first and I understand fears that changing course now could undo all the good work which has already been done. Having said that, the traditional Conservative focus on “big business” will always be in the back of my mind so I am open to hearing what the other parties have to say.

Has the impending general election caused any uncertainty regarding how you run your company?

The divergence of opinion when it comes to energy policy has caused huge uncertainty in the energy sector generally. In terms of how I run my business, we have had to become more aware of the impact the energy debates will have on suppliers. The “Big Six” monopoly is under threat and this has already had an impact economically when one looks at share prices. 

The fall in oil prices led to a decrease in wholesale energy prices but this has still not been reflected in the consumer market, again this is something that we have to keep an eye on as we try to provide our customers with the best deal. Uncertainty for my business is directly linked to the uncertainty seen in the energy market. Ultimately, our success relies on low energy prices so if this is jeopardised by slap-dash political policy we will be vulnerable.

In one sentence, please finish this line: “I’m voting as…”

I am voting as a concerned business owner who wants to see a stable economic future, not only for myself, but for the businesses Love Energy Savings help.

Do you agree with Phil Foster? Is there anything you’d like to add? Please let us know in the comments box below.