MILTON KEYNES-BASED catalogue giant Argos is to offer electricity and gas supplied by Southern Electric via its catalogue, distributed to 18m consumers twice-yearly. The alliance will allow Southern access to millions of potential customers outside its Thames Valley catchment area when the energy supply industry gains full competitive freedom next April. Crows Jim Forbes, Southern's chief executive: 'The route through Argos allows us to acquire customers at a much lower cost than by other methods, such as door-to-door selling.' John Davis of Argos Business Solutions greeted Southern as 'our natural choice to join our multi-retailer scheme.'

Argos customers signing-up with Southern will receive Premier Points, an incentive programme that allows points accrued to be exchanged for goods in the Argos catalogue. Southern also plans to award Premier Points to its existing and new customers - from whatever source they are recruited. BP and Somerfield are also major participants in the Premier Points scheme.