A company that promised to sell energy without adding a profit margin is set to fold without ever getting off the ground, after its directors resigned last week.
At Cost Energy was due to launch in October with a promise to sell energy at the same price it buys gas and electricity from the wholesale markets (see the Cheap Gas & Electricity guide).
In an interview with MoneySavingExpert.com last month, senior executives even said an offshoot energy comparison service was set to launch that week (see the At Cost Energy interview).
Those same directors resigned just days later. It has emerged parent company, The Stockdale Group, was unable to raise sufficient funds to continue.
We understand the company could be placed into administration shortly.
The root cause of its troubles is founder and millionaire businessman Matt Stockdale cannot work due to serious health problems, which delayed the firm's launch.
He was due to inject large sums of cash to support the company but without this input At Cost turned to a comparison service to raise funds to pay the company's running costs, though this strategy has failed.
A statement from The Stockdale Group says: "It would appear the board were unsuccessful in raising sufficient funds to take the business forward.
"We can confirm the remaining board members advised Matt on Friday 30 July all had resigned as of 28 July. Regrettably, Matt is not well enough to return and therefore is taking advice on possible courses of action."
In the interview with MoneySavingExpert.com, At Cost directors Cedric Clarke and Paul Keightley said: "We can achieve what we want.
"Our gas proposition is likely to launch in October. We will develop a comparison site that should start next week."
It is not clear what will happen to the personal details (names and email addresses) of the 18,000 consumers signed up to receive information on At Cost Energy.
Stockdale says: "My intentions are genuine. All I wanted to do was make a difference, by helping people. I would like to thank the thousands of people who believed in what I was trying to do and for the kind get-well messages.
"I have never stopped believing that consumer energy costs can be driven down by buying from the wholesale market and once I have fully recovered, I will continue to investigate ways to deliver an alternative method of buying energy."
Martin Lewis, MoneySavingExpert.com creator, says: "I've mixed emotions. I'm saddened we're not going to see what was originally hyped. If it had delivered, it could have shaken up the energy market.
"Yet I'm relieved that what this company had become – a firm compiling a database based on an unrealistic promise with plans to flog customers an entirely different service – is going to stop operations.
"Stronger regulation and political debate about fair utility profits are required to shake-up the market. For the moment. if you're paying too much, do a comparison as one of the biggest causes of excess cost is apathy, with people sitting on old, uncompetitive deals."
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