Centrica, Britain's largest energy supplier, has reported profits of £1.3 billion for the first half of this year, just weeks after announcing big price hikes for domestic customers.
Its residential arm British Gas made a profit of £270 million over the period, a sharp drop of more than 50 per cent on the same time last year.
Despite this fall, the figure shows that the company is making almost £3 million a day in profit, at the same time as average gas and electricity bills are set to increase by 18 and 16 per cent respectively.
Centrica said a 30 per cent rise in wholesale gas prices and lower consumption made the price jumps a necessity and also explained the 19 per cent decline in overall adjusted operating profits from £1.6 billion last year.
Commenting on the figures, chief executive Sam Laidlaw said: "In this challenging market, the resilience of our integrated business model has enabled Centrica to continue to perform well. We are focused on reducing costs and ensuring disciplined deployment of capital, to maintain our competitive position and drive long-term shareholder returns."
Audrey Gallacher, director of energy at Consumer Focus, said customers are bound to question whether the impending price hikes are necessary in light of these results.
"Centrica seem to win whether wholesale costs are high or low. Retail profits margins may have been reduced by recent increases in wholesale prices - but as they are also major gas and electricity wholesalers, they can still make healthy profits at the other end," she added.
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