uSwitch paved the way for the comparison websites of the future. The site was set to enhance consumer’s savings in terms of electricity deals, but evolved afterwards to domains from car insurance to mobile phones, becoming the pioneer comparison website for UK consumers. It was meant to be a turning point in the field.
One of uSwitch’s major milestones was undoubtedly its much-discussed sale in 2006, when ownership transferred from its founders for £210m, a ground-breaking deal that substantially exceeded other internet site sales at that time.
How did uSwitch rise to such prominence so quickly, and how did it become so valuable to its new owners? Key to its success was the combined skills of the founders and management team, including CEO Andrew Salmon.
Andrew Salmon’s business partners
The team behind uSwitch’s early success, which also included Lord Milford Haven and Vipul Amin, had an impressive business pedigree and was already successful in a variety of commercial ventures and positions. However, they could also see the potential of the internet to help consumers benefit from UK energy deregulation process.
Under Andrew Salmon’s control, uSwitch grew quickly, as UK households grasped the opportunity to source and secure better gas and electricity contracts. It also served to make the energy companies far more aware of their obligations to offer customer service and competitive prices.
The astute way in which Andrew Salmon positioned and promoted uSwitch was one of the major catalysts for its growth and sale. There is no doubt this arose from his considerable experience of the shifts and changes in the energy market in the preceding few years.
Prior to taking uSwitch to its position as a market influencer, Andrew Salmon gained valuable experience of the energy sector as Commercial Manager for London Electricity. In the two years he worked there (1998-2000), he was tasked with helping the retail team to sharpen its skills in preparation for the newly deregulated gas market.
Answering directly to the General Manager for domestic and small business sectors, Andrew was influential in the acquisition of South Western Electricity in October 1999. During that time, he also drilled down on London Electricity’s retail sales and marketing business plans, using market research for far clearer consumer segmentation.
Andrew Salmon was also in charge of the firm’s sales call centre and headed up improvements to the way commercial negotiations were handled with external sales agencies.
Andrew Salmon’s financial experience
Prior to his time with London Electricity and then uSwitch, Andrew Salmon was Manager (Corporate Finance) at PricewaterhouseCoopers from 1996 to 1998.
Working for the multinational professional services giant, he completed many significant assignments. This included working for the Israeli government to provide developmental support for a new gas industry. He was also part of a team of financial advisors who worked with the government of Kazakhstan on the privatisation of the National Electricity Transmission company.
In Spain, working with Gas Natural, he provided strategic advice on the progression of competition in the country and improved Government partnership. He also worked with British Gas to provide vital insights on the TransCo and Centrica demerger, and with the Overseas Development Agency on reforming the electricity supply sector in Odisha, India.
None of the above were Andrew Salmon’s first introduction to the management of energy supply. From 1992 to 1996, he worked for the Civil Service Fast Stream under the Office of Gas Supply (OFGAS). As Assistant Economist, he took a lead in gathering evidence for the 1992/93 Monopolies and Mergers (MMC) inquiry into the gas industry, and then oversaw application of the MMC’s recommendations.
Following a period as a Senior Assistant Economist, during which he guided through the implementation of price control formulae for TransCo and British Gas retail, he became Assistant Director (reporting directly to the Director General), responsible for implementing the Network Code, the framework that prepared the gas industry for open competition.
It is clear that Andrew Salmon took part in the project that would become the basic idea to an open gas market. He actively participated in the development of the strategy, providing the expertise obtained from his wide experience in different professional roles.