Meet Gareth Finnie

General Manager Gas Retail

General Manager Gas Retail, Gareth Finnie talks about his role in commercial and industrial gas retailing and Shell Energy’s expansion into the South Australian and Queensland gas markets.

What does an average day at Shell Energy look like for you?

My role as General Manager Gas Retail is to continue building on all aspects of commercial and industrial retailing to large market gas customers and leading the team to achieve this. My day-to-day role can be quite varied. I could be meeting with intermediaries or customers to understand their energy challenges, working with the Shell Energy team to create innovative solutions to these, or jumping on a call with our IT system provider to discuss updates that will help customers better understand their gas usage.

Tell us about the success of Shell Energy’s gas offering and how it has resulted in an expansion into the South Australian and Queensland markets?

We’re really excited to expand our gas offering to South Australia and Queensland this year following successful launches in Victoria and New South Wales in 2021. There is less competition in the retail gas market than electricity, so expanding our gas offering supports competition and helps provide customers with greater choice.

With such a strong reputation in commercial and industrial electricity retailing, customers have embraced the opportunity to partner with Shell Energy for their gas. Different product options and favourable terms and conditions have helped provide us with a strong competitive offering, complemented by our market-leading service model.

While expanding into South Australia and Queensland was always part of the roadmap, the success we had initially launching in Victoria, and then New South Wales in 2021, led to increased interest and customer enquiries. Once we had the green light to launch into both states, we had immediate success with customers who signed up for 2022 and beyond.

What trends are you seeing from large gas users?

Gas retail pricing has increased significantly over the last six months due to market volatility and this has led to a high degree of concern from customers.

Inflation and Consumer Price Index (CPI) risk is increasingly being factored in as a key consideration for large gas users when negotiating contract terms.

Many gas contracts are linked to CPI, and with the latest quarterly release from the Australian Bureau of Statistics1 showing an annualised increase over the 12 months to March 2022 in excess of 5 per cent, it can be a real advantage to lock in contracted prices to remove uncertainty.

We see a mix of customers who have a very detailed and intimate knowledge of their gas usage on an hourly basis, as well as customers who are focused solely on price versus service or efficiency opportunities. Our customers are large gas users consuming more than 5TJ each year and come from a variety of sectors including manufacturing and government.

What do you see as the biggest challenge for customers during the energy transition?

The biggest challenge right now for customers is managing their day-to-day energy costs. Both gas and electricity markets are experiencing extreme volatility which has led to an all-time high in market pricing at a time when customers are trying to focus on long-term investment in net-zero strategies and renewable solutions. We understand a lot of businesses are facing great difficulty and are focused on survival at the moment, and we’re working closely with our customers to support them through this challenging time.

What excites you about the future of energy?

The constant change in the industry never ceases to amaze me or fail to keep me interested. I have always been passionate about delivering the best possible customer service experience I can. I believe that going the extra mile should be the norm and not something that happens occasionally. In such trying times, it’s never been more important to offer personalised support to the businesses we partner with.

What would you say to someone considering a role at Shell Energy?

Shell Energy is a great place to work with a great team culture and a strong desire to succeed. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, get outside of your comfort zone and get stuck in!

 

1Australian Bureau of Statistics, https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/economy/price-indexes-and-inflation/consumer-price-index-australia/latest-release