HR’s big gamble: sector focus on casinos

first_img Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article The UK’s first super-casinos are set to open in 2007, but how are HR professionals in this controversial sector squaring up to the challenge? Virginia Matthews reports. It’s a business that draws in almost three-quarters of the population, is popular with the Royal Family, and is constantly finding novel ways to attract punters via the internet, digital TV and mobile phones.Gambling is big news in the UK, and aided by its deregulation last year, it is growing fast. The Millennium Dome in south-east London is just one of the names on a shortlist for the UK’s first Las Vegas-style ‘mega-casino’, while a further 16 licences for smaller casinos across the UK are set to be granted.The Gambling Act 2005 has turned the industry into just another branch of the leisure market, with all the skills and staffing issues that entails. There are a number of challenges ahead for HR managers in the sector. In May, a group of HR professionals met with government-appointed regulators to hammer out controls on the industry. One of the key issues they intend to deal with is corporate social responsibility. Workers in the industry will need to be trained to recognise the signs of problem gambling and intervene if someone has a problem – for example, individuals trying to borrow money from other customers or ‘chasing losses’. Solutions might range from simply talking to the individual and making sure they know where help is available, to barring them from an entire chain of outlets.In the spotlightAlthough operators grumble that UK betting and gaming is one of the most heavily regulated sectors in the world, HR professionals believe that the new spotlight being cast on the business will ultimately be good for staff, as well as profits. Neal Young, group HR director at giant Gala Coral, believes that despite its sometimes shady image, gambling has much to be proud of. It might come as a surprise to hear that the sector attracts a large number of graduate recruits each year, either as temporary croupiers or potential management trainees.“The betting and gaming sector needs to come of age in the recruitment market and show people that it is already a very professional employment sector,” says Young. “We are leading the way in trying to demonstrate that the business is a bone fide career opportunity – not just for younger people, but for everyone with an interest in taking a bet.”HR multiplierAlthough social responsibility makes headlines, the bigger operators say they have already made enormous strides in complying with regulators and that it is gambling’s new, more open image that is more significant in the long term.Since deregulation, says Vince Jewitt, head of regional operations in the south for Stanley Casinos, the roulette wheel and blackjack table have seen a remarkable influx of women and younger couples – a trend he hopes will continue. A diverse mix of staff will promote this trend. “People come into casinos thinking everyone is going to be a James Bond-type in a tuxedo or an upper-class twit, but the many misconceptions about gambling are something we wish to correct,” says Jewitt.Ros Barker is HR director at Ladbrokes, which has more than 2,000 betting outlets nationwide. She believes staff retention is her biggest challenge.“HR has always been a high priority in the gaming and betting sector because of its big retail presence on the high street and the fact that it employs thousands of qualified people,” she says.“Developments in e-gambling are attracting a more IT-savvy generation of employees who see us as a happy hunting ground for jobs. While lots of bright young people are finding their way to us via an interest in sport or gambling, many are reluctant to stay for longer than a couple of years – and that is certainly a challenge.”In a sector where technical skill as well as all-round numeracy is highly prized, promoting existing qualified staff is more cost efficient than attracting raw talent, says Barker. Of a staff of 14,000, the firm promotes around 5,000 people internally every year. The job functions in gaming and betting are in many ways the same as in any other big, systems-driven retail business, including HR, finance, marketing, high-profile IT work and the ever-present security.Unique to gambling though are the front-of-house croupiers, who work shifts during casino opening hours of 2pm to 6am and are judged on the number and quality of the games they deal. Behind the scenes are the ‘traders’, who specialise in odds compilation or liability management. Hitting the jackpotAt Ladbrokes, between 10 and 20 graduates are recruited each year and seconded to the retail operation, to internet and TV gambling, and to either marketing, HR or telephone work. “We see ourselves as being very much part of the leisure sector, even though we’re an adults-only industry,” says Barker. “And while we continue to work closely with the Gambling Commission on social responsibility, it is important to remember that the UK has the lowest number of problem gamblers in the world.”While deregulation entails a more prominent role for the regulators, it will also mean HR managers have to be more proactive in the way they manage talent. “Lots of people become croupiers as a stopgap after university because it is fairly easy to pick up and can be well-paid, but HR’s job is to identify those with the potential to make senior croupiers or junior managers,” Barker adds.“HR has become more important to us in the past couple of years as the industry has expanded and all operators have begun to fish from the same pond.”Surprisingly though, he adds, mobility is rare among those who make betting and gaming into a long-term career. “Of the 13 casinos I look after, I have only one general manager with a non-casino background – and he’s from bingo.”Legal Q&A: Gambling at workGambling Commission-‘Super-casinos’, or large casinos, will span at least 1,500 square metres, and have the right to operate 150 machines with jackpots of £5,000. The Gambling Act 2005 also made provision for one, all-day, Vegas-style gambling palace, with a licence to include 1,250 slot machines, each with an unlimited jackpot. The first casino is due to open by December 2007. It is thought that the new casinos planned for the UK could create as many as 100,000 new jobs. Related posts:No related photos. HR’s big gamble: sector focus on casinosOn 26 Sep 2006 in Personnel Todaylast_img read more

Government to review select licensing as number of schemes passes 550 mark

first_imgOne of the UK’s most controversial private rental market policies, select licensing, is to be reviewed, the government has announced as the number of schemes in the UK tops 550.These geograpically-specific schemes require landlords to apply for a licence if they want to rent out a property, mainly so that their local council can ensure they are ‘fit and proper’.The government’s review will be a chance for landlords and their agents, who often dislike the extra costs and red tape selective licensing schemes create, to make their voices heard.For agents, managing properties within or near selective licensing scheme zones is often a challenge because both their shifting local coverage and changing requirements can make them difficult to comply with.Licences usually cost approximately £500 per property, although they can be as high as £2,500 for HMOs.In October The Neg reported that there were 30 selective licensing schemes in London, a further 500 being operated outside the capital and at least 25 new ones in consultation, although this figures has now believed to have surpassed 550.The government says it wants to find out how selective licensing is being used and how well the schemes are working.A review by a panel of independent commissioners will gather evidence from local authorities who operate selective licensing schemes as well as the official organisations who represent landlords, tenants and housing professionals.Some councils are keener than others and for example the London Borough of Brent announced in February that it had so far fined landlords £63,500 within its two selective licensing scheme areas.The government says it will report back on the review in Spring 2019.government review Selective Licensing scheme Brent June 21, 2018Nigel LewisWhat’s your opinion? Cancel replyYou must be logged in to post a comment.Please note: This is a site for professional discussion. Comments will carry your full name and company.This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.Related articles BREAKING: Evictions paperwork must now include ‘breathing space’ scheme details30th April 2021 City dwellers most satisfied with where they live30th April 2021 Hong Kong remains most expensive city to rent with London in 4th place30th April 2021 Home » News » Government to review select licensing as number of schemes passes 550 mark previous nextRegulation & LawGovernment to review select licensing as number of schemes passes 550 markHousing ministry says it wants to find out how they are being used by councils, and if they working some 12 years after the first ones were introduced.Nigel Lewis21st June 20180661 Viewslast_img read more

Britain orders nine maritime patrol aircraft from Boeing

first_img View post tag: Boeing The British Ministry of Defence has confirmed that it signed a deal to purchase nine P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) for the Royal Air Force (RAF).Boeing’s P-8A MPA are being purchased from the US Government via a Foreign Military Sale.According to the MoD, the cost of developing and delivering the UK’s MPA capability, including paying for the people, their training, the infrastructure and necessary support at RAF Lossiemouth will be around £3 billion over the next decade.Speaking at the start of the Farnborough Airshow, Prime Minister David Cameron said that Boeing would commit about £100 million to the Lossiemouth base.Tony Douglas, Chief Executive Officer of the MOD’s Defence Equipment and Support organisation, said: “The P-8A aircraft was the best solution to fill our maritime patrol aircraft capability gap; it is tried, tested and can be delivered in the timeline we need.”The new aircraft, which will be based at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland, will play a vital role in protecting the UK’s nuclear deterrent and the UK’s two new aircraft carriers. They will also be able to locate and track hostile submarines, and will enhance the UK’s maritime Search and Rescue (SAR) capability. This capability will also bring economic benefits to Scotland and the wider UK, with an additional 400 personnel based at RAF Lossiemouth, the ministry said.The P-8A can operate at long range from its operating base without refuelling and has the endurance to carry out high and low-level airborne maritime and overland surveillance for extended periods. This aircraft will also be able to conduct wide-area search of open ocean to locate small boats and drop rescue life-rafts and equipment to vessels and people in distress.The P-8A is based on the Boeing 737, which is already supplied by UK industry. UK manufacturers already provide specialist sub-systems for the P-8 itself. Companies include Marshall for the auxiliary fuel tanks, Martin Baker for the crew seats and General Electric for weapon pylons. The new order of P-8As is also set to create opportunities for the UK to bid for training and support contracts.First aircraft are expected to arrive in the UK in 2019/2020. Back to overview,Home naval-today Britain orders nine maritime patrol aircraft from Boeing View post tag: Britain View post tag: MPA Share this article Authorities July 11, 2016 Britain orders nine maritime patrol aircraft from Boeinglast_img read more

Video: Two mega-blocks of Australia’s Arafura OPV merged

first_img May 7, 2020, by View post tag: OPV View post tag: Arafura-class View post tag: Royal Australian Navy navaltoday Video: Two mega-blocks of Australia’s 1st Arafura-class OPV joined togethercenter_img The Royal Australian Navy’s offshore patrol vessel (OPV) program has reached another milestone with the two halves of the first Arafura class OPV coming together to form a complete hull.The milestone comes a year after the keel for the lead ship in the class was laid in Adelaide.Built by Luerssen Australia and its South Australian partner ASC, it marks the largest industrial manoeuvre at Osborne Naval Shipyard in South Australia.Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC said the Australian Naval Infrastructure (ANI) operations team manoeuvred the two mega-blocks of the ship together, weighing 1,000 tonnes in total, with only millimetres between them.“It is a source of great pride to see a unified purpose among industry partners Luerssen, ASC and ANI, with defence industry continuing to show resilience to deliver during these challenging times,” Minister Reynolds said.The first of the OPVs, Arafura, is planned to enter service from the early 2020s and will conduct border protection and maritime patrol missions alongside other Australian and regional partners.“It is great to see new investments and innovations made as part of this program, with ANI undertaking significant expansion and modernisation of the Osborne Naval Shipyard,” Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon Melissa Price MP, commented.“The OPV program is delivering benefits across Australia, with the first two vessels under construction at Osborne in South Australia and the remaining 10 vessels to be built at Henderson in Western Australia.”The program of 12 vessels will replace and improve upon the capability delivered by the Armidale class and Cape class patrol boats.Check out how the two halves of Arafura were brought together and welded to form a single structure in the video below: Vessels Back to overview,Home naval-today Video: Two mega-blocks of Australia’s 1st Arafura-class OPV joined together Share this articlelast_img read more

USI Volleyball Opens Long Homestand

first_imgEVANSVILLE, Ind.—University of Southern Indiana Volleyball begins a six-match homestand Friday at 7 p.m. when it hosts defending Great Lakes Valley Conference East Division champion McKendree University at the Physical Activities CenterThe Screaming Eagles (6-7, 1-3 GLVC), who are trying to stop a three-match losing streak, also host the University of Illinois Springfield Saturday at 3 p.m. at the PAC.Live stats and GLVC Sports Network coverage will be available at GoUSIEagles.com. USI students can enter the raffle to win a $500 Campus Store shopping spree at each of USI’s home matches–the drawing is October 28 when the Eagles host Missouri S&T.USI Volleyball Notes (9/27/16)Farrell eclipses 1,000-dig mark. Junior libero Shannon Farrell (Munster, Indiana) became the 11th player in program history to reach the 1,000 dig plateau for her career with her sixth dig in the first set against Truman State University last Friday. Farrell currently ranks 11th all-time at USI with 1,038 career digs.Lost leads. The Eagles have been struggling to hold onto leads during their three match losing streak. USI lost a 7-4 lead in the fifth set in its loss to Rockhurst University, then lost early leads of at least three points in two of the three sets it dropped against Truman. The Eagles lost an 18-14 lead in the first frame of their three-set loss to Quincy University this past Saturday.Scouting the opposition. McKendree begins the week ranked second in the GLVC East Division with an 8-5 overall record and a 3-1 mark in GLVC action. The Bearcats went 1-1 in GLVC play last week, defeating Rockhurst in five sets Friday before falling to William Jewell College in five sets the following day.Illinois Springfield opens the week with a 5-7 overall mark and a 0-4 record in GLVC play. The Prairie Stars, who visit Bellarmine University Friday, lost in three sets to William Jewell and Rockhurst last week.Last year. USI went 1-2 against McKendree a year ago. The Eagles lost in three sets to the Bearcats in Lebanon, Illinois, before earning a four-set victory over McKendree in a win-or-go home match for USI to end the regular season. McKendree, however, got the better of USI in a four-set affair in the first round of the GLVC Tournament the following week.The Eagles and Prairie Stars split the season-series a year ago. USI earned a three-set road victory over Illinois Springfield in the first meeting before losing a five-set heartbreaker at the PAC in the final week of the regular season.Statistical leaders. Freshman outside hitter Mikaila Humphrey (Floyd Knobs, Indiana) continues to lead the Eagles with 2.84 points and 2.72 kills per set, while sophomore setterErika Peoples (Bloomington, Illinois) is averaging a team-high 9.43 assists per frame.Farrell leads USI with 5.26 digs and 0.30 aces per stanza, while junior middle hitter Te’Ayla Whitfield (Fort Wayne, Indiana) is contributing a team-best 0.94 blocks per set. Senior middle hitter Amy Zwissler (Bloomington, Indiana) leads the Eagles with a .248 attacking percentage.In the GLVC. Farrell’s 5.26 digs per set ranks second in the GLVC.FacebookTwitterCopy LinkEmailSharelast_img read more

Briefs

first_imgn Starbucks’ US chairman and former chief executive, Howard Schultz will immediately replace chief executive Jim Donald. Starbucks said the leadership shuffle is part of a series of initiatives to help improve its performance.n What has been described as Britain’s first Polish supermarket has opened in Sunderland. The Polskie Food Company in Holmeside stocks a wide range of Polish bakery items and breads.n A new website, [http://www.foodanddrinkforum.co.uk], has been launched by The Food & Drink Forum. The aim is to help keep the industry up to date with support, training and development opportunities.n Bakers should consider capitalising on the growing trend for online shopping. Retail specialist, Actinic, found in a survey that respondents reported a 27% rise in the number of customers buying online at Christmas, compared to the same period in 2006. They also reported an increase in internet revenues of 46%.n Northern Foods announced on Friday 11 January, that its acquisition of a soup plant from Baxters Food Group would improve its production footprint in the UK.n Police have been investigating inapropriate, religious graffiti at Pentland Bakery in Herts. Pentland owner Mr Munir said the graffiti referred to Islam in an offensive way.last_img read more

Speech: Chief Secretary: Enterprise Nation remarks

first_imgIt is brilliant to be here this morning with such an amazing view.I do believe that we are fundamentally an enterprising nation and that is one of the many things that’s exciting about Britain.Sometimes to appreciate your own country you have to travel overseas. Recently I did a trip to Korea and Japan and they were saying to me, “How can we get the same kind of start-up culture that you have in Britain?”, “How can we attract that investment in early stage businesses? or “How can we have that energy that we see every time we come to London?”I think we’ve got to appreciate what we’ve got, and in the last year there’s been a 5% increase in business registrations.The momentum hasn’t stopped. What is also very interesting is the attitudes of generations that are under 21.They’re more likely to want to start up a business than previous generations and they’re doing it in droves, as we’ve seen an 85% increase in 18 to 24 year olds setting up businesses just in the last three years alone.I had a group of those businesses called ‘20 under 20’ in my office in the Treasury talking to them about when they’d start up their business what motivated them, and most of them said that it was at age 11 that they’d first thought of their idea. They struggled with some of the hurdles – like they couldn’t open bank accounts to other sorts bureaucratic difficulties – but they persisted and actually due to new technology, due to the availability of things like YouTube and podcasts to be able to get wider advice or to be able to network with a wider world – they ultimately had succeeded in their ambition. It is those ideas, and it is these people that drive progress in our country.In the 1960s we had an expression the ‘jet set’ because only the very rich could afford to travel round the world, but now thanks to new entrants it is a lot cheaper now and many more people can afford to travel. Or, what about supermarkets. I remember when getting pasta was exciting in the supermarket and now you can buy all kinds of things from fish sauce to won tons; you can get anything you want at your local Sainsbury’s, again that’s down to enterprise.Even the internet itself, where the derivation of that idea came from Britain and great people like Ada Lovelace or Tim Berners Lee. Quite often we hear negative things and of course there are harms that we need to deal with, but a recent survey showed that 82% in Britain had said the internet had made their lives better. None of us have to get bored waiting in a queue at the supermarket anymore, we can use our time much more productively. We are seeing all this progress and sometimes I think we take that progress for granted. But the reason we’ve got that progress is because of the individuals that come forward and there has never been a better system than the system of free enterprise for harnessing the ideas and dreams of individuals.For me it’s not just about economics. Of course, it is important that we get economic growth up. Of course, it is important that people that are able to afford to live better lives and that they are able to get better food for their children and get better opportunities. But starting businesses is also important for that sense of fulfilment and self-determination for individuals and that is one of the reasons that I do love meeting entrepreneurs, because you are people with dreams who want to bring those dreams to reality and there’s something really exciting about that.British start-ups are also an area where it doesn’t matter what your background is. It doesn’t matter where you’re from. It doesn’t matter what gender you are. If you’ve got a good enough idea, if you’re prepared to work hard enough; if you’re prepared to fulfil those ambitions; or if there’s somebody out there who wants to buy what you’ve got to offer, you can do that and you don’t have to be ticked off by a piece of government bureaucracy.I think that’s incredibly empowering and one of the areas that I’m very interested in the whole area of female entrepreneurship, because we do know there are fewer female entrepreneurs than male entrepreneurs. If we had as many female entrepreneurs as male entrepreneurs we’d have 1.2 million more businesses in this country, and I do see it as a source of empowerment, as a source of being able to take control of your own life and run your own life.So what can the government do about this? First of all I think we need to be positive. Emma mentioned Brexit and the Brexit vote. I believe we will get a deal. I believe we’re very close to getting a deal. It’s always darkest just before dawn and I think that is the situation we have at the moment, but there is a definitely a will and you can sense it across Parliament, and you can sense it across the country that people who have been debating this issue for two years.There are various permutations of exactly what we could do, but we want to get on with it. Leave the EU in an ordered way and in a way which provides the security and stability for everybody to carry on living their lives, but also so that we can carry on trading with the EU which is a vitally important market, as well as reach out further into other markets.I would point out that many overseas markets are already doing extremely well, and we’ve seen our exports rise across the world. What does the government do next? In my role as Chief Secretary to the Treasury I’m in charge of public finances. We currently spend a £800 billion a year as a government and this year will be the year of the Spending Review and that’s where we set our government budgets for 2020. I think that’s a massive opportunity for us as we leave the European Union to reform our economy and to look at how we spend public money, and if we are we spending it right to deliver the maximum possible opportunities for people across the country.First of all the challenge is to be able to keep taxes low. Often my number one job is saying ‘no’ to people who want to spend more money because I know that ultimately for every extra pound we spend that’s a pound we have to raise in tax, and we have been able to keep corporation tax at 19% which is the lowest in the G20. We’ve been able to lower business rates, particularly for those businesses on High Streets. I’m sure there are many people in this room who feel that there are issues still with tax. I certainly think there is a lot of room to simplify our tax system. I think it’s become over complicated. So those are some of the things we need to look at over the coming years.The second area to highlight is infrastructure. One of the decisions this Government has made is to spend more money on capital spending, investing in infrastructure like roads; the railway network, fibre and broadband rather than day to day spending. I think that’s important. But what we need to make sure is that we’re spending that capital money in the right way and I’m very interested in your feedback as small businesses. What would make the most difference for your business. Is it rail connectivity? Is it fibre connectivity? Where is it geographically?What would make the most difference to making your businesses more successful and in fact tomorrow I’m going to be in Felixstowe meeting businesses there and just hearing from the ground up about what it is that will make the difference in terms of capital investment.Of course skills are vitally important. We’ve got a program of education reform taking place we’re introducing new T levels. I was previously the Education Minister we introduced new GCSE and A-levels and those continue to be important.The second area I’d highlight is improving regulation and red tape. I think the government is always in danger of creating too much red tape. I’m interested in how we can simplify that landscape and how we can make it easier for businesses to engage. How we can flag up where there are bodies which maybe not intentionally, but quite often unintentionally, might be creating those problems. I think the biggest area I’d highlight of regulation is the planning system. We need to look at cities like Tokyo which have a more liberal planning system which make it easier for office spaces to be changed, for new houses to be built and we need to look at what we can do.One of the things we’ve just announced in the Budget is we’re conducting a consultation on the ability to build up.If you have a freestanding building you’ll be able to build up to five stories without getting planning permission, and that is the the type of innovation I think we’d need to see more of. We need to allow more spaces to be easily changed. We need to allow new land to be opened up both for housing and for office space and for manufacturing. Another subject close to my heart is childcare. Again I think there’s still more we need to do on simplifying the way we organise childcare. We spend £6 billion as a government per year on supporting childcare but I think those are areas we can do better.The final point I want to make before we go onto questions is championing new entrants. It’s always tempting for government to end up listening to the big players. You can often see that it is big companies will have large lobbying organisations, big legal departments and I’m very keen as a government that we try to make sure that we’re looking at how will everything we do affect new entrants. How will that affect the people that have not yet got into that market and part of that market.This means looking at things like business support. We spend over £20 billion on business support and that’s a combination of tax reliefs and other funding through things like LEP’s but also through special grants for particular sectors. I want to look at this through the lens of how we help new companies start up.And finally, I want to mention about the issue of women. We launched a report recently that showed the vast majority of all venture capital funding was going into all- male teams and I do think that that is a barrier that the government has highlighted and we want to see more venture capital firms open up and fund a wider variety of businesses, because there’s no doubt that if you’re well networked, if you are based in London and the Southeast or if you are male it is easier to get funding than if you’re not.We simply can’t afford, as we’re leaving the European Union, we’re seeking to become a more competitive country. We’re seeking to lead the world in enterprise. We simply cannot afford to ignore huge amounts of talent, and we can’t afford to ignore half the population or cities outside London. So the Government needs to make sure that we are not skewing the playing field against new entrants and ensure that those who fund businesses are also looking beyond the usual suspects.last_img read more

Fast-tracking their dreams

first_imgAutumne Franklin ’16, Jade Miller ’17, and Gabrielle Thomas ’19 are three standouts among the Harvard athletes hoping for a spot with Team USA at the Summer Olympics in Rio. The trio will compete in the U.S. Olympic track and field trials in Eugene, Ore., July 1 to July 10. Franklin and Miller will run the 400-meter hurdles, Thomas the 100- and 200-meter sprints. To make Team USA the athletes will have to place among the top three finishers in their events.last_img

Most Wanted! Philosophy for Gangsters Opens Off-Broadway

first_img The cast features Courtney Romano, Tom White, David Demato, Tally Sessions, Bruno Iannone, Shabazz Green, Kyle Robert Carter and Leajato Amara Robinson. Philosophy for Gangsters follows Mafia heiress Callie Rizzoli who has a lot on her plate. A street gang is fighting to take over her territory. She wants to make someone pay for her parents’ deaths. To top it off, she and the philosopher she’s kidnapped are lifted to top slot on the FBI’s Most Wanted List. Philosophy for Gangsters is a clever, provocative comedy about ideas and messy deaths. Show Closed This production ended its run on March 1, 2014 View Comments Philosophy For Gangsters Philosophy for Gangsters makes an offer you can’t refuse as it opens February 4 at The Beckett Theatre. Written and directed by Barry and Reparta Peak, the mobster comedy will play a limited off-Broadway engagement through March 1. Related Showslast_img read more

France’s Engie planning substantial investments in U.S. renewable energy, no new gas plants

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Greentech Media:Engie is on the lookout for more clean energy acquisitions in the U.S., where the company plans to ramp up its investments into grid-scale batteries, hybrid renewables projects and offshore wind, says North America chief Gwenaëlle Avice-Huet.With a long history in fossil fuels and nuclear energy, Engie has pivoted dramatically toward renewables over the past few years — a strategy that included the U.S. acquisitions of wind developer Infinity Renewables, solar installer SoCore Energy and battery storage company Green Charge Networks.“Do we want to continue with acquisitions? I would say yes because we want to be big in the U.S.,” said Avice-Huet, who moved from France to Texas a year ago to oversee Engie’s 6,300-person North America division. “This is a huge playground and a core geography for us strategically.”Engie was slower than some European peers like EDF and Iberdrola in pressing into the U.S. renewables market, but it’s taken up the strategy with vigor. Through its acquisitions, the company now holds a leading position in the corporate renewables market — a market Avice-Huet expects to sustain itself through the pandemic and any downturn. Last year Engie signed more U.S. corporate wind deals than any other developer, according to the American Wind Energy Association, with a list of renewables customers that includes Microsoft, Walmart and Target.Despite Henry Hub natural gas spot prices below $2 per MMBtu, Avice-Huet said Engie is not investing in new U.S. gas plants — no small thing for a company once known as Gaz de France (GDF). “My journey in the U.S. is very much focused on the acceleration of renewables,” she said in an interview.More and more corporate renewables deals will involve hybrid projects marrying wind, solar and batteries, Avice-Huet said. Last year Engie announced a deal with Microsoft that will pair the output from a wind farm and solar array in Texas, along with a “volume-firming” agreement that will see Engie supplying power on a 24/7 basis. “This is the future evolution of renewables in the U.S.,” Avice-Huet said.[Karl-Erik Stromsta]More: Engie looking for more U.S. clean energy acquisitions: North America CEO France’s Engie planning substantial investments in U.S. renewable energy, no new gas plantslast_img read more