Operating figures, equity and financial results for the year

Commercial & Trading Operating Segment

Operating dataU.M.20182017Change% Change
Electrical Energy sold - FreeGWh3,6854,191(506)(12.1%)
Electricity sold on the protected marketGWh2,3442,652(308)(11.6%)
Electricity - Free market customers (P.O.D.)N/000331320123.6 %
Electrical Energy - No. Protected Market Customers (P.O.D.)N/000831893(62)(6.9%)
Gas SoldMsm31281032524.6 %
Gas - No. Free Market CustomersN/00017316753.2 %
Operating results and financial position (€ million)31/12/201831/12/17Change% Change
Revenues1,693.21,576.7116.57.4 %
Costs1,617.11,499.1118.07.9 %
Operating profit/(loss) (EBIT)3.717.6(13.9)(79.2%)
Average number of personnel464474(10)(2.0%)
Capex24.619.45.327.2 %
Net financial debt(23.7)(8.7)(15.1)173.8 %
Gross operating profit (EBITDA) (€ million)20182017Change% Change
Gross operating profit (EBITDA) Commercial and Trading Segment76.177.6(1.5)(1.9%)
EBITDA GROUP933.2840.093.311.1 %
Percentage weight8.2 %9.2 %(1.1 p.p.) 

The Segment, responsible for the management and development of electricity and gas sales and related customer relationship activities as well as the Group's energy management policies, closed 2018 with an EBITDA of € 76.1 million, down compared to 2017 by € 1.5 million. The reduction is mainly attributable to Acea Energia (- € 2.1 million) and Acea8cento (- € 0.4 million), only partially mitigated by the better margin of Umbria Energy (+ € 0.8 million).

With regard to the effects on the primary gross margin, the reduction recorded by Acea Energia is mainly due to the decrease in the free market margin (- € 7.3 million) and the margin of the gas market (- € 4.8 million mainly due to higher procurement costs). The margin of the protected market is substantially in line with the previous year. The reduction in the free market margin is due to the contraction in volumes of electricity sold, mainly in the B2B segment, to the lower margins in the mass market segment and to the regulatory review of imbalances. However, we note an increase in the number of customers, with particular reference to the small business and mass market segments (+ 4.0%).

The operating result shows a reduction of € 13.9 million due to higher provisions recorded compared to the previous year (+ € 5.8 million), to which are added the economic effects deriving from the first application of the new IFRS 15 international standard, which reclassifies the cost of agents from service costs to depreciation and amortisation (+ € 7.4 million).

With reference to the workforce, the average number at 31 December 2018 stood at 464 employees; this number was down compared to the previous year by 10 employees. The primary contributors to this change are Acea8cento (- 14 people) and Acea Energia (+ 6 people).

The investments of the Segment amount to € 24.6 million and show an increase of € 5.3 million, mainly due to the capitalisation of costs for agents in line with the provisions of the new IFRS 15 international standard (+ € 9.5 million).

The net financial position at 31 December 2018 stood at - € 23.7 million, an improvement of € 15.1 million compared to 31 December 2017. The above trend derives from operating cash flow dynamics influenced by the improvement in collection performance and lower payables for lower volumes of energy purchased on the protected market.