British Gas owner Centrica has appointed former Aviva boss Mark Hodges as its new managing director, ending an 11 month search to fill the position.

Hodges, 45, was with Aviva for 20 years before somewhat unexpectedly moving in 2011 to head up Towergate, a specialist insurance broker.

He will take over as director from Ian Peters, who has been the interim MD at Centrica and who will move into the role of director for consumer facing strategy on 1 June.

Hodges will take home a basic salary of £625,000 a year but will have the opportunity to make the equivalent in bonuses if he meets all his performance targets.

With energy providers under the magnifying glass of regulators and consumer champions, Hodges' expertise in improving customer relations - an area where the Big Six have been shown to be lacking - probably informed his appointment.

"It will be a great privilege to lead British Gas, which has a proud heritage, and I am excited by the great potential the company has to benefit customers through improved service and in developing new products," said Hodges.

Centrica chief executive Iain Conn added: "He brings substantial experience of running a major UK customer facing business and has a strong track record in improving customer service, increasing performance and driving growth through innovation."