Evergreen partners with AgilityEco to help fight fuel poverty

Bridges Evergreen Holdings (“Evergreen”) has acquired a significant minority stake in AgilityEco Services Ltd (“AgilityEco”), a recognised leader in low-carbon, energy efficiency and fuel poverty services, to support its long-term growth and so help more vulnerable households.

More than 10% of all households in the U.K. live in fuel poverty*. AgilityEco is helping to tackle this challenge, primarily via two Government-backed schemes. Under the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme, licensed energy providers are required to reduce lifetime fuel bills for fuel-poor households by over £8bn by 2022; AgilityEco helps providers to meet these obligations by arranging the installation of energy-efficiency measures such as better insulation and efficient boilers. AgilityEco also works closely with over 150 Local Authorities to identify households eligible for the Warm Home Discount, a separate Government scheme for those in particular need. It has designed and operates a number of community-based programmes to provide fuel poverty and energy efficiency solutions to these households, including its award-winning Local Energy Advice Partnership (LEAP).

Since its launch in 2013, AgilityEco has grown rapidly, supporting nearly 40,000 households across the U.K. in 2018/19. And with one leading think-tank arguing recently that the Government needs to move much faster to have any hope of reaching its 2030 fuel poverty reduction targets**, there is clearly a large and growing market for the solutions that AgilityEco provides.

Evergreen is a specialist long-term capital vehicle: it provides financial, strategic and operational support to ambitious mission-led organisations, helping them to grow and deliver more impact. It is managed by Bridges Fund Management, which has been investing in businesses that support the transition to a more inclusive and sustainable economy for nearly 20 years. Evergreen will work in partnership with AgilityEco and its senior management team to support the continued scaling of the business and so help more people out of fuel poverty. An employee benefit trust or similar structure will also be established, so the broader AgilityEco team can share in the rewards of this future growth.

AgilityEco co-founders Gearóid Lane and Jon Kimber, who previously held senior roles at British Gas/ Centrica, will continue to lead the business. Evergreen’s Scott Greenhalgh and Luke Edwards will join the AgilityEco board. Ian Peters (a former colleague at British Gas/Centrica, and currently Chair of Barts Health NHS Trust and Vice Chair of Peabody), joins as Chair. Ian also chairs a number of growth businesses in the energy and water sectors.

Gearóid Lane, CEO of AgilityEco said: “As a business, we’re very ambitious to grow and support more fuel-poor and vulnerable households. We were looking for a mission-aligned investment partner who shared our values, understood our sector and could help us achieve our long-term growth plan, and Evergreen fitted the bill perfectly. We’re excited to work with the team over the coming years.”

Scott Greenhalgh, Chairman of Bridges Evergreen Holdings, said: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to partner with Gearóid, Jon and their team. As a fast-growing profit-with-purpose business, operating in a large and important market, AgilityEco is exactly the sort of ambitious mission-led organisation Evergreen seeks to support. Across the Bridges platform, we have invested in a number of organisations that are helping to address housing vulnerability and accelerate the transition to a more inclusive economy. We believe we can use this experience and our impact management expertise to help AgilityEco grow and deliver greater and deeper social impact.”

* A household is considered to be fuel-poor currently if they have required fuel costs that are above average (the national median level); and were they to spend that amount, they would be left with a residual income below the official poverty line. There are currently 2.5m fuel-poor households in England. (BEIS Annual Fuel Poverty Statistics in England, 2019 (2017 Data).
** IPPR: Beyond ECO: The future of fuel poverty support