Whitbread Commits To The Structural Timber Association
The company, which operates brands including Premier Inn, Costa Coffee and Brewers Fayre, build and manage hundreds of properties across the UK, with many more in the pipeline.
Timber plays a key part in many Whitbread properties, especially their network of new-build Premier Inns, which regularly utilise timber frame in their design and construction.
Chris Foad, Whitbread’s head of construction process and existing estate expansion, explained the move. He said: “Timber is at the heart of many of the properties we construct and operate. Therefore, we need to ensure that the materials and services we use are of the highest quality, whilst also being sustainably sourced and priced at a competitive rate.
"To ensure we are meeting all of these requirements, Whitbread has taken the decision to only use the products and services of STA accredited members when building timber-based properties. The Association’s strict membership conditions, movement towards CE marking, and investment in skills and training, means that we can build safe in the knowledge that quality is at the core of what we do."
The STA and Whitbread have a long-standing relationship, with both organisations working together in recent years to address the issue of fire safety during construction. Whitbread’s Premier Inn Construction Team, along with selected construction consultant partners, was instrumental in developing the STA’s fire safety during construction processes, which is now becoming industry standard when building in timber.
Andrew Carpenter, chief executive of the Structural Timber Association welcomed the endorsement. He said: "Whitbread has used timber in the construction of its proprieties for many years, so this commitment to only using STA members is a great boost for the Association and its members.
“This endorsement puts clear water between members and non-members, and is a reflection of the quality, assurance and peace of mind which comes with using an STA member.
"We look forward to working closely with Whitbread over the coming months and years, to build the future together."
In its latest financial results (29 April 2014), Whitbread reported that it opened 23 (net) new Premier Inn hotels during its 2013/14 financial year (equivalent to 3,364 net new UK rooms) and has a total of over 55,000 Premier Inn bedrooms. Its forward development pipeline currently stands at c. 11,500 bedrooms and is supporting Premier Inn’s sustained growth towards its target of 75,000 UK bedrooms by 2018. In addition to new build projects, Whitbread invested around £80 million in refurbishment and maintenance of the Premier Inn estate during 2013/14. Premier Inn now operates 672 hotels, 172 more than its nearest competitor.
Premier Inn, the UK’s largest budget hotel operator, will create 8,000 new jobs over the next five years due to its rapid expansion plans. Premier Inn opens a new hotel every 10 days. From the 8,000 jobs being created, which equates to over four jobs a day, Premier Inn has committed 50% of them for new openings to the long term unemployed aged 16-24. The fastest growing hotel chain has also pledged an additional 2,000 Apprenticeships and 4,500 work placements for young people in the UK by 2018.