Whitbread saves millions on card handling

Whitbread, the UK's largest leisure and hospitality group has deployed a new card payment solution in an effort to cut costs.

The company owns and operates brands including Costa Coffee, Premier Inn, Beefeater and Brewers Fayre has worked with IBM, Verifone, Smart Technology Solutions and Fidelity National Information Services to implement a new centralised card payment handling solution, and is estimated it will save more than 1 million a year in operational costs.

The project involves the deployment of a centralised and scaleable infrastructure which will unify and simplify the transaction process across all the brands. IBM's StorePay and integrated STS Hostlink software is used.

Whitbread said that the solution allows staff to access bills, take card payments, enter gratuities, split payments, print full VAT receipts and automatically close bills without leaving the customer's side.

The previous PDQ (Process Data Quickly) solution was slowing down service as data needed to be entered into the till and PDQ terminal. Whitbread said the new solution would streamline the process and improve customer service.

"Deployment of the new integrated payment solution which has begun throughout Whitbread's restaurants is a groundbreaking step for the leisure industry," said Stephen Deakin, project manager at Whitbread Information Systems.

He added: "Movement away from the 'Swipe & Sign' in Whitbread restaurants means we are no longer liable for fraudulent payments and have also benefited from an improvement in transaction rates as a result of the shift to chip and pin."

Implementation of the technology for Costa Coffee was completed in November 2007 and this month it is due to rolled out to Beefeater and Brewers Fayre. The third phase will be completed when the solution is implemented into Premier Inn hotels later in the year.

Deakin also said that as well as quickening the process, the implementation will provide Whitbread with complete transaction visibility. This meant that it could now track individual transactions and improve targeted marketing initiatives.

He said: "By enabling card payments to integrate with all POS systems, Whitbread has succeeded in removing data duplication and manual error while delivering quicker payments, enhancing the atmosphere for staff and customers."

Deakin added: "Furthermore, centralisation of the payment infrastructure provides Whitbread greater visibility of the business as a whole through a centralised reporting structure."