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Former cost-of-living czar Buttress to lead Ovo Energy

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The former food delivery executive, who served as Boris Johnson’s cost of living tsar, will be the next boss of Ovo Energy, Britain’s third largest gas and electricity supplier.

Sky News has learned that David Buttress, who transformed Just Eat from a start-up into a multi-billion dollar business, will be appointed as Ovo’s new chief executive later on Wednesday.

He will replace Raman Bhatia, whose appointment as CEO of Starling Bank was announced earlier this month.

Mr Buttress, who will start at Ovo in May, spent the second half of 2022 working with Mr Johnson, then Prime Minister, on initiatives to tackle the cost of living – with energy prices revealing be a key driver of soaring inflation.

He resigned as chief executive of Just Eat in 2017, citing family reasons, and has since been a venture partner at 83North, an early-stage investor.

His appointment at Ovo represents a significant upgrade to the company’s leadership, following the recent arrival of Justin King, the former boss of J Sainsbury.

OVO has 4 million energy customers in the UK, placing it third in the market behind British Gas and Centrica’s Octopus Energy.

Under the leadership of Stephen Fitzpatrick, founder of OVO, the company has positioned itself as a challenger brand offering superior service to established players in the industry.

In recent weeks, however, she has been at the center of a public row over money she withdrew from clients’ accounts following public complaints by Victoria Coren Mitchell, a writer and broadcaster.

David Contrefort.  peak
Picture:
David Contrefort. peak

OVO’s transformative moment came in 2020, when it bought the retail supply arm of SSE, transforming it overnight into one of Britain’s leading energy companies.

Other major players in the sector include EDF and Scottish Power, which is owned by Spain’s Iberdrola.

Sources said Mr Buttress’s digital expertise had been of particular interest to the OVO board.

He will likely focus on strengthening the company’s customer service function as well as exploring ways to diversify its products and services.

Last summer, the company announced a £200 million secondary share sale which saw existing investors Mayfair Equity Partners and Morgan Stanley Investment Management increase their stakes in the company.

Other investors include Mitsubishi Corporation, the Japanese conglomerate.

OVO also has a technology platform called Kaluza, which was created to license its software to other energy providers, and which provides smart electric vehicle charging and heat pumps to its customers.

News of Mr Buttress’ appointment comes in the same week that Ofgem, the industry regulator, launched a review into the future of price capping.

OVO has at times had a strained relationship with Ofgem, which Mr King is working to improve, according to industry sources.

Mr Fitzpatrick remains involved with the company as a founder, although he also devotes time to his New York-listed aerospace start-up, Vertical.

OVO declined to comment Wednesday morning.

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