British Gas lost 340,000 customer accounts in the UK in the first half of this year, the chief executive of the firm's parent company has told the BBC. The lost accounts represent about 270,000 customers. However, Centrica chief Iain Conn said the rate of customer losses had halved since last year and he hoped numbers would stabilise. His comments came as Centrica said operating profits at its consumer business had fallen by 20% to 430m. Shares in Centrica fell 5% in early trade. Price cap

British Gas is the biggest energy supplier in the UK. It still has 3.5 million customers on standard variable tariffs, which are often the most expensive. However, that number is down from 4.3 million at the start of the year as the company has encouraged customers to switch to cheaper fixed-rate deals ahead of a cap on more expensive tariffs that is expected to come into force at the end of this year.