Whitbread controls water cost by cutting out middleman

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
1 September 2017

Whitbread has become the first multinational hospitality firm to be granted a self-supply licence under water market reforms.

Whitbread, the UK’s largest hotel, restaurant and coffee shop operator, will be able to buy water at wholesale prices, cutting out retail middlemen.

Under English market reforms, which came into effect in April, businesses can now choose their water and wastewater retailer.

There is also the option for businesses with multiple sites to apply for a self-supply licence, which means firms receive no retail services, such as billing and customer service, but instead provide these services to their own premises.

Sean Lavis, senior procurement manager at Whitbread, said: “Self-supply will enable us to build on the efficiency works already undertaken, while driving cost and consumption control in the next phase of our water management strategy.”

Whitbread’s brands include Premier Inn, Costa Coffee, Brewers Fayre and Beefeater.

In the first three months following the reforms, more than 36,000 water or wastewater services were switched to different retailers.

John Russell, Ofwat senior director of strategy, planning and policy, said: “The new retail water market has only been open since April, but already many businesses across England have taken full advantage of it by renegotiating with their existing supplier or shopping around for a better deal.

“For a large, multi-site business like Whitbread, opting to become a self-supplier offers a range of benefits, such as reducing administration costs, cutting out the margin that goes to others in the supply chain and having more control over the service they get.”

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