Six months after non-household (nHH) wholesale/retail separation (‘market opening’) came into force (1st April 2017), have any improvements been made in service innovation for customers in the water sector in England? This paper will offer an answer to this question based on recent work facilitated by the Watef Service Innovation Technical Committee (SITC). To do this the SITC and participants at a highly interactive Watef masterclass, explored first-hand accounts from different organisations (Business Stream, Waterwise, Utility Week) that were involved in, affected by or observed nHH market opening in the English market, alongside statistics from England’s nHH water market operator MOSL (Market Operator Services Ltd). In contrast to the Scottish experience with market opening (from 2008), the English market responded quickly with more nHH customers switching in the first six months than in the first few years in the Scottish context. However, few small to medium enterprises (SMEs) were aware of the ability to switch and less switched compared to large multi-site companies who were more prompt in taking advantage of the ability to switch. A range of associated and un-associated retailers entered the market and began to compete to win benefits relating to the 2.5% net margin allowed on services (in contrast to the revised higher, but variable, margin in Scotland), which prompted a focus on added value and in particular encouraging water efficiency through new
models of service innovation. Workshop findings indicated retailers and supporting organisations are refining and testing further service innovation approaches in an emerging
market that will continue to evolve over the coming years.