Schuh steps into big savings with water supplier switch

High street footwear giant schuh is set to reduce overheads by £62,000 thanks to a change in water supplier in addition to the identification of a watercourse that was absorbing run-off drainage from one of the retailer's distribution centres.

Schuh’s water retail account switch – to Thames Water Commercial Services Limited (TWCS) for its 15 Scottish branches and Livingston headquarters – is expected to save the retail group £20-22,000 a year.

In addition, Schuh’s Bathgate distribution hub, which distributes shoes, boots and trainers across the country, has cut its projected wastewater bills by around £40,000 per year, after the TWCS team identified that run-off drainage from the site was flowing into a local burn, rather than into the sewer network – an identification which means that Schuh does not have to pay business sewerage charges.

“When we set out to switch supplier, we were looking primarily to reduce our like-for-like bills,” said Schuh’s managing director Colin Temple. “However, the team at TWCS has been very proactive in offering further services that save us time and money and quite simply go beyond what is expected.

“The extra attention to detail was evident at our Bathgate warehouse, where the knowledge and expertise of the TWCS team in spotting the significance of the burn quite literally unearthed new savings that would otherwise have gone completely unnoticed.”

‘Trailblazing market’

The Schuh facilities team will now receive a single, consolidated bill as part of the TWCS service, rather than an individual bill at every individual Scottish property, saving time and reducing transactional costs.

TWCS Scottish team leader Alan Munro added: “This is quite an incredible story, in that we have been able to help schuh reduce their property drainage charges significantly simply through identifying that rainwater being discharged from the roofs  of the property was actually being discharged into a nearby burn and not into Scottish Water sewer network.

“Although this situation is not too common, it is something all businesses should be aware as property drainage charges can potentially make up a significant part of any business customers water bill.

“It belies a more important message: firms must look to suppliers that are capable of delivering services that go beyond simple cost-cutting and in doing so take advantage of the great opportunities that Scotland’s trailblazing open water market offers.”

Cascade of savings

The non-domestic Scottish water market opened to competition in April 2008, and since then around 130,000 non-household customers have been able to make significant savings from water bills by switching suppliers.

For the first time next year, businesses across England will also be able to choose their water and waste water services provider. The Water Bill will come into force in April 2017, bringing competition to the £2bn water market.

Under the new competitive market, a business with several sites across the country could essentially switch all of them to one supplier, benefiting from associated economies of scale across billing and administration, as well as driving significant value from services like water efficiency initiatives and trade-effluent management.

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George Ogleby

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