Alan Parker

Position - Former CEO, Whitbread PLC

Background

Alan Parker was appointed CEO of Whitbread PLC in June 2004, after 12 years as managing director of Whitbread Hotel Company and a member of the Whitbread PLC Board since 2000.

Alan is a director and ex-chairman of the British Hospitality Association, a Fellow of the Institute of Hospitality, an executive committee member of the World Travel and Tourism Council and non-executive director of Jumeirah Group LLC.

In June 2008, Alan was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for his lifetime of service to the hospitality industry. During his time as CEO, Whitbread has been transformed from a leisure conglomerate of 10 separate divisions to the focused hotel and restaurant business that it is today.

Alan discusses Whitbread

The hotel, leisure and tourism industry has historically lagged behind other sectors, such as retail, in fully understanding the meaning of sustainable business and embracing the opportunities that it presents.

The situation is changing fast and I am determined that Whitbread will be a leader in that transition. I want our customers to eat, sleep and drink a sustainable Whitbread offering. However, the current danger is that there are too many sustainability standards and certifications. It is important that we work together to develop our vision and priorities as a sector and align ourselves individually behind that goal. This will provide clarity to our customers and enable us to engage effectively with government and other industries.
In this regard, and as the newest member of the International Tourism Partnership (ITP), we look forward to participating in the organisation’s excellent work for more responsible business. ITP’s work, and our involvement in it, will support our internal corporate responsibility programme, Good Together. This bold and ambitious initiative, launched externally at the end of 2009, covers key sustainability issues that our stakeholders have told us are important, such as carbon and water management, staff development, responsible sourcing and guest engagement.

What does sustainability and corporate responsibility mean to a value hotel, restaurant and coffee shop operator? First, it is about working together to make changes, as demonstrated by our decision to join ITP. We serve more than nine million customers a month, employ 33,000 people and buy from about 3,000 suppliers. We’re still at the start of the journey, but we believe that by changing the way we do business, we can make a significant difference across this huge network: it is about the way we make decisions, the way we contract with others and our behaviour as individuals.

Second, we mustn’t forget that we are a value operator. We pride ourselves at Whitbread on providing a great-quality product and a great customer experience at unbeatable value. But, in our view, value cannot come at the expense of people and planet. Customers increasingly see responsible and green credentials as part of value. But they don't necessarily want to pay more or to sacrifice quality for a greener choice, and I don't think they should have to.

At Whitbread, we believe the sustainable choice should be clear and accessible to everyone. What have we done so far? We’ve set some ambitious targets, including a 26% reduction in carbon emissions by 2020, diverting 80% of our waste from landfill by 2012, raising £1 million for our charity partner WaterAid and providing an education for 15,000 children in coffee-growing communities through our Costa Foundation.

We’re making real progress, too. For example, we’ve built a green Premier Inn hotel in Tamworth, where the combination of technologies has resulted in a carbon footprint 81% smaller than a standard site of similar size over the last 12 months. Now we’re building another larger hotel in Burgess Hill in East Sussex, which includes a Beefeater open grill restaurant, and we’re planning to incorporate low carbon materials and technologies across our entire estate of hotels and restaurants.

We’ve also pledged to source 100% Rainforest Alliance-certified coffee and have switched all our milk sourcing at Costa, our coffee-shop brand, to traceable UK herds with milk transported in plastic pouches, which saves more than 400 tonnes of plastic waste a year.
We are also focusing on developing our employees and building sustainability leadership in the organisation. I chair our new Good Together Steering Committee, which includes representatives from our main board and our divisional management boards.

Responsibility for delivering Good Together across the organisation is with our senior and management levels, and we have incorporated corporate responsibility measures in our internal balanced scorecard, which we use to measure how we are performing for our people, guests and investors.

We call our leadership framework the "Whitbread Way Forward". This is an expression of leadership behaviours that bring to life our key values: being genuine, confident and committed in all that we do. Good Together is rooted in these values and going forward we plan to invest in engaging with all our employees so that we have a shared understanding of how we will work together to deliver sustainable business.

 

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