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B&Q buys major UK Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) Supplier

The day that estate agents and home owners will be able to order their EPCs (Energy Performance Certificates) from their nearest DIY store or supermarket has come closer, following the acquisition of one of the largest EPC suppliers, National Energy Services, by B&Q.

B&Q’s owners, the Kingfisher Group who are Europe’s biggest DIY retailers, have refused to say how much they paid for National Energy Services, which includes the DEA accreditation body NHER, and also SAVA, the body originally set up by HIP enthusiast and one-time government adviser Christopher LeGrand.

A Kingfisher spokeswoman said: “I can confirm that we have bought NES, and this is part of the group’s eco-strategy. I can also say that it will be business as usual at NES.”

She would neither confirm nor deny whether the acquisition is part of B&Q’s Green Deal strategy, but B&Q, along with Tesco and Marks & Spencer, is one of the firms set to sell insulation and home energy improvements as part of the Government’s flagship programme.

The Government chose a B&Q store to launch the Green Deal apprentice scheme, which will spawn a new industry of ‘green’ home inspectors, who will not necessarily be Domestic Energy Assessors, to visit people’s homes and advise on measures such as insulation, solar panels and new boilers.

B&Q plans to have an eco adviser in every store and is already running an eco-trial of homes in south London.

The purchase by Kingfisher of NES is not announced on either website but could worry the 3,031 accredited DEAs registered with NES. There are 685 Home Inspectors who are members of the SAVA certification scheme and qualified to do voluntary Home Condition Surveys.

In order to become qualified Green Deal inspectors, all would need further training.

Neil Kurz, an estate agent who is also a DEA, heading up NRG Experts, said: “It’s certainly an interesting move by B&Q / Kingfisher and this acquisition has bought them direct access to probably the largest and most experienced pool of energy assessors in preparation for the Green Deal.

“Although I’m not expecting energy assessors to be issued with B&Q orange branded Minis any time soon, I do think it likely that Green Deal assessors visiting domestic properties will have the double incentive of commission on products and services sold by them at the property, as well as offering the occupiers B&Q discount vouchers.”

He went on: “Home Inspectors will fear for the future if SAVA/NHER is now directed to focus on regaining the revenue they lost when the energy assessor training extravaganza dried up 18 months ago.

“SAVA and BRE have jointly helped with the rollout of the Home Condition Survey product, but it’s too early for either accreditation scheme to be profitable running the HCS part of their businesses. Home Inspectors will hope this isn’t the very final nail in their respective surveying coffin.”

NES, which was set up as a charity, describes itself as ‘the UK’s home for independent energy assessors, home inspectors and low carbon professionals’.

In 2010 Milton Keynes-based NES had a turnover of £5.850m – well down from the £9.447m the year before – and scraped a profit of £40,544 compared with a profit of £315,271 the previous year.

Whilst B&Q is the first to acquire an EPC firm, there is speculation that the likes of Tesco will follow as the Green Deal gets closer.

Source : Zoe Mundy - Headington Lettings

08 July 2011
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