THE benefits of competition in the Scottish non-domestic water market have been highlighted to leading figures in the hospitality and tourism sector.

Thames Water Commercial Services has focused on building its Scottish business on the sector since entering the retail water market in Scotland a year ago.

The company, which currently holds less than 1 per cent of the market in Scotland, said firms can save up to 20 per cent on their water bills by switching to Thames from Business Stream, the dominant player with a 90 per cent share.

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Noting that competition in the retail water market has brought "genuine savings" to companies north of the Border since 2008, Thames managing director Piers Clark said: "There are now probably half a dozen to a dozen different retailers in Scotland, and Business Stream is the incumbent in the same way Thames Water is the incumbent in London. And Business Stream offers a really good service. We're not trying to say, don't use them, we're better than anyone else. That's for the customers to decide.

"I would encourage all businesses to test the market for themselves and perhaps not to be complacent, because actually there is a saving they could make very quickly."

Mr Clark, who joined Thames Water five years ago, emphasised that firms should not choose a water supplier on price alone, noting that trust and confidence are valued highly by customers.

He said his company's desire to build trust with customers had been fundamental to its decision to focus on a single sector, hospitality and tourism, as it looks to build its presence in Scotland.

To date Thames' Scottish business, which employs two full-time staff and is recruiting two more, has built up a base of 64 customers. These include Queensferry Hotels and The Edinburgh Collection. Turning to the market in England and Wales, which is poised to open to retail competition in April 2017 after the Water Bill gained Royal Assent, he said the firm's experience in Scotland will be useful as it looks to win share south of the Border.

He insisted that competition is "working incredibly well" in Scotland, but noted the market down south will be more complicated as there are more wholesalers.

Business Stream chief executive Mark Powles said the company welcomes the "challenge that competition has brought" since 2008. He said: "We know from working with our customers that it's not just about price, it's about delivering value.

"We've worked with our customers to deliver the services that match their business needs.".