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Holiday group halves IT costs by leasing computers and software

Arif Mohamed
A holiday group has calculated that it has cut its IT costs by almost half by leasing its PCs and software rather than buying.

Bourne Leisure, which owns Haven, British Holidays, Warner and Butlins, leases most of its PCs and servers from Lombard Technology Services under a £1.5m, three-year deal signed last year. It declined to put an exact figure on the money saved by leasing.

Bourne began leasing its IT after it bought rival Rank's holiday division for £700m in 2000. This resulted in duplicated IT systems and an increase in the number of IT staff to 70.

Simon Crawshaw, head of information services at Bourne Leisure, said the company drove down costs by paying up-front for some key applications, such as a booking system, and leasing equipment as and when it was needed.

Crawshaw added that leasing IT equipment, rather than buying it has freed up capital. "We would much rather have our capital invested where it generates a direct return," he said. "Providing a new swimming pool complex at one of our parks helps to raise the quality of the guest experience and therefore the revenue generation potential from the park."

Bourne has continued to use Hewlett-Packard PCs and servers, with applications from both Microsoft and Novell, after switching leasing suppliers.

Crawshaw said Lombard offered it flexibility in requesting and returning equipment.

Key features of a good IT leasing company are the ability to display flexibility, openness, trust, and to take time to get to know the business, he added.

Bourne's three-year deal with Lombard is to provide each user with the latest technology - PCs are equipped with 17-inch flat panel monitors and the latest PC technical architectures.

The company has 2,500 PCs across its 56 sites in the UK, and it is currently selecting new PC models. It also leases Microsoft's Exchange e-mail system, Windows Server 2003, Novell Netware and Novel Zenworks for managing printing.

According to some analysts, companies can cut their costs by leasing their computers. Benefits of leasing include not having to make down-payments; avoiding asset removal and disposal costs; gaining assistance with asset management and tracking; potentially lowering monthly payments, because the supplier retains the residual value of the product at the end of the lease term; and having simpler budgets.

A number of supplier organisations offer PC leasing contracts, ranging from IT services companies such as IBM Global Financing, Dell Financial Services and HP Financial Services, to financial services organisations such as GE Capital and Royal Bank of Scotland-owned Lombard Technology Services.

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