A procurement-led project to install electric vehicle charging points at Whitbread hotels and restaurants has unlocked value beyond driving down costs.
Whitbread – owner of the Premier Inn and Beefeater brands – has struck a deal with Engie to deliver the “UK hospitality sector’s biggest rollout” of electric charging points.
Under the scheme up to 1,000 charging points will be installed across Whitbread’s network of more than 800 hotels and restaurants. Over the next three years 600 will be installed as part of the company’s Force for Good sustainability drive.
Simon Leigh, procurement and supply chain director at Whitbread, told SM the project was a “piece of goods news” for a hospitality sector suffering under lockdown.
He said the plan was discussed around 18 months ago and last year the procurement team ran a tender process.
“It was one of those perfect situations – how can we utilise our estate, how can we generate revenue, and how can we do something for our guests?” Leigh said.
“There is always a lens from a procurement perspective where we say, ‘How can we unlock value beyond just driving costs?’
“We track revenue generation as part of our efficiency programme. It’s thinking beyond a typical procurement approach.”
Guests and members of the public will be able to use the charging points, which can replenish batteries in around 30mins.
Leigh, whose remit covers goods and services as well as indirects, recommended other procurement departments consider revenue-generating schemes.
“Everyone should be thoughtful around, ‘What is the size and shape of our business and can we use our business in a way that can generate additional revenue for the organisation beyond what we’re typically here to deliver?’” he said.
He added: “It was a very nice project that all came together and a piece of good news in a time where there is not so much good news, especially for hospitality.”
Concerning lockdown, Leigh said the procurement team was working to prepare for when the economy opens up again.
“We’ve got everything ready to go, we’re working really closely with our suppliers but we’re subject to the government guidance,” he said. “This is an opportunity for us to make sure we’re in the strongest place possible to deliver a brilliant year.”
Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “This fantastic initiative between two great companies will allow for stress-free electric vehicle charging when we are able to visit our favourite pubs and restaurants again – allowing consumers to charge up in record time, while encouraging others to make that all important switch to electric.”
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