Whitbread Group to save £1m a year with company-wide payment system

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Whitbread Group to save £1m a year with company-wide payment system

Cliff Saran

Hospitality company Whitbread Group is expecting to make savings of £1m a year by the end of the year following the roll-out of a company-wide payment system.

The company is rolling out the payment system across 1,500 locations across its Costa Coffee, Beefeater, Brewers Fayre and Premier Inn businesses.

"We now process a greater volume of [payment] transactions, which has allowed us to gain a preferential rate for [banking] payment services." said Stephen Deakin, project manager at Whitbread Information Systems.

Whitbread has been working on the project for two years. It has allowed it to replace old banking terminals - which required staff to key in customers' credit card details manually - with wireless chip and Pin readers.

The project has simplified the way Whitbread balances the books at the end of each day, said Deakin.

"We used to poll data across 500 sites at the end of each day, which made it difficult to investigate where a reconciliation error had occurred. We are now trickling data through to Fidelity, which means we have greater visibility of all the transactions and this makes it easier to spot problems," he said.

Deakin said Whitbread is now 90% of the way towards PCI compliance, as the suppliers and the payment system are PCI-certified.

Whitbread has used Smart Technology Solutions's Hostlink software, a product that runs an application on chip and Pin readers, to link card authorisations with IBM's StorePay, payment processing software.

The system sends payment transactions to Fidelity National Information Services, which provides its payment services once a customer's card has been authorised by chip and Pin readers.

Once complete, Deakin said Whitbread would be able to run data analysis to measure business metrics such as the number of people in Premier Inn who also eat at the Whitbread restaurant next door.

The company completed the roll-out of the unified payment system to 500 Costa Coffee outlets in November 2007. This month it is due to finish the roll-out across 500 Beefeater restaurants. By the fourth quarter of 2008, Deakin expects to have 500 Premier Inn hotels running the payment sytem.





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