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Goadby teams up with Fairfax for 'at-cost' energy 'club'

Former Genesis Energy retail head Goadby teams up with Fairfax for 'at-cost' energy 'club'

By Jonathan Underhill

Oct. 9 (BusinessDesk) - Former Genesis Energy retail head David Goadby has teamed up with Fairfax Media to start an energy 'club' he says will charge membership fees in exchange for selling electricity at cost price to members who are in Vector's distribution network.

Goadby is founder and chief executive of energyclubnz, according to his Linked In page. The Companies Office lists him as director of Future Energy New Zealand, which is 50.99 percent owned by Future Energy Management and 49.1 percent by Fairfax New Zealand. Future Energy Management is owned by Jenna Edward and a trustee company via law firm Lockhart Legal. Goadby declined to comment on the ownership, which he said is predominantly held by an investment trust.

Future Energy NZ was incorporated in November 2016 and has been working since then to establish an electricity retailer, which Goadby says is a complex task in New Zealand. It uses a billing system from Auckland-based Agility, he said. The company takes long-term contracts with Vector and delivers electricity to its members "at cost - we don't make any money". Club fees run at $5 a week.

He cites the example of a customer at Meridian Energy paying $285 a month for electricity who is able to save $45 a month by switching to energyclubnz. The club aims to offer other goods and service "at cost price/zero mark-up," according to his Linked In page but the immediate focus is to roll out its service across New Zealand's 28 electricity networks, with the majority to be completed over the next year. Its website has a bill comparison tool.

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"We want to make sure we have the ability to scale," he said. Fairfax was a good partner because it was "very digitally driven and community driven." The new business "replicates the great stuff with Stuff Fibre. We're someone that wants to deliver value to New Zealanders."

Fairfax launched Stuff Fibre last year as part of efforts to move beyond its traditional journalism business. The fibre-only internet service provider offers uncapped data starting at $79.50 a month for a 12-month contract.

Fairfax owns 51 percent of that business while 49 percent is owned by Giant Management, whose shareholders include former Vodafone executives Sam Morse, David Chapman-Smith, Geoff D'Augney and Robert Tihanyi and former Sky Network Television manager John Simmons. It also owns Neighbourly, a local social media site that now claims more than 500,000 members, which earns fees from targeted advertising.

"We welcome energyclubnz into the fold as we continue to explore new opportunities that will support our core business of journalism," Fairfax New Zealand chief executive Sinead Boucher said in a statement.

Fairfax and rival media company NZME, which is listed on the NZX, have said they're planning to press on with an appeal against the Commerce Commission's rejection of a merger proposal they say offers them the best shot at countering the impact of Google and Facebook, who now dominate New Zealand's digital advertising market. The appeal is set down for a 10-day hearing in the Wellington High Court starting on Oct. 16.

Fairfax New Zealand's pre-tax earnings fell 7.7 percent to $55.5 million in the 12 months ended June 30 as sales fell 7 percent to $326 million, reflecting the decline in advertising sales.

In August, Fairfax Media chief executive Greg Hywood said the Stuff website in New Zealand is key for Fairfax NZ's pipeline of products, providing "a platform to monetise audiences through new products and businesses" such as the Stuff Fibre internet service and KPEX advertising inventory pool set up by local media companies.

Goadby was retail manager at Genesis from July 2014 to August 2016 and has held a number of positions in the energy sector in Australasia and the UK in the past two decades, his Linked In page shows. His longest spell was at Proctor & Gamble UK in the 1990s.



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