OVO Energy is to cut 2,600 jobs across the UK, including hundreds in Reading.
OVO acquired SSE's retail division four months ago. It will close its Reading operations although SSE will continue to be based at the central Reading location.
In a joint statement from Nigel Horton-Baker, executive director, Reading UK and councillor Jason Brock, leader Reading Borough Council, both expressed disappointment at the closure announcement.
“It is terribly disappointing news to hear that OVO is closing the OVO (formerly SSE Energy Services) office in Reading, particularly in these precarious economic times. Many staff there are currently furloughed as a result of COVID-19 and OVO have stated they want to avoid compulsory redundancies and also offer home working or moves to other offices. We would expect OVO as a responsible employer to be looking at retraining and job matching within the company as well.
“Reading has a historically strong job market and as of this morning had the third lowest increase in unemployment claimants due to COVID-19 in the country. We will urgently seek clarification on how many jobs and which roles are under threat of redundancy in Reading.
“Reading Borough Council and Reading’s economic development company Reading UK will coordinate the response of a number of key agencies locally to supplement OVO’s redundancy support programme. It is important to get those affected the assistance they need at this very difficult time, including retraining and redeployment locally where possible.
“Reading came through the 2008/09 global financial crisis quickly and, while social distancing will hinder this time, we are relying on the strong resilient sectors of our economy to diversify and respond to new market opportunities and the new normal world post-COVID to create new jobs and new ways of working in Reading.”
Jason Brock added: “This is disappointing news at a very difficult time and will understandably cause concern for residents of the town who have given many years of loyal service to the company. We hope that the situation will become clearer over time, with options available to staff affected.”