Norweb puts Charles Barker on trial

Manchester-based energy company Norweb has hired Charles Barker to help it prepare for deregulation of the domestic gas and electricity markets.

Manchester-based energy company Norweb has hired Charles

Barker to help it prepare for deregulation of the domestic gas

and electricity markets.



The agency has been brought in on a three-month trial period

which, if successful, will lead to a two year contract estimated

to be worth around pounds 200,000 a year.



Twenty seven agencies responded to Norweb’s call for tenders (PR

Week, 8 November, 1996), from which four - Lowe Bell, the Rowland

Company, Charles Barker and Shandwick - were asked to pitch last

month.



The original brief called for PR support in two gas deregulation

test markets: the South West, where domestic gas customers have

been able to shop around for suppliers since April 1996, and the

South East, which was opened to competition in January.



Norweb has since decided not to participate in the South East

test and is understood to be considering dropping Norweb Gas as

its trading name because it is too strongly associated with the

North.



If Charles Barker completes its trial, its major task will be to

prepare Norweb for the introduction of gas deregulation

nationally. This was originally due to take place next year, at

the same time as deregulation of domestic electricity supply.

However, under new plans announced by the Government last week,

the timetable for gas has been brought forward and could mean

some regions, such as Scotland and the North East, opening up to

competition as early as October.



Although Norweb had refrained from the door step selling tactics

which prompted criticism when adopted by companies in the South

West, PR manager Derek Brown said Norweb was now trialling the

technique itself. But he said the PR campaign would focus on

’branding, customer service and added value products’.



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