Introduction to Whitbread
Whitbread is an international company headquartered in Dunstable. The major industry the company is involved into is hospitality with different subsidiary companies. The history of Whitbread started in 1742, when Samuel Whitbread founded the company. Initially, the company focused on purpose-built mass-production breweries. However, the modern Whitbread, as the world knows it today, was founded in 2001, when the owners sold all breweries and focused on hotel and restaurant industries. This change was not a desire of one of the company owners but a natural process dictated by the ending of brewing tradition in the UK (About us 2013). In 1995, Whitbread acquired Costa Coffee with all its 41 stores nationwide having become involved into coffee shop industry (Our brands 2013). Nowadays, Premier Inn and Costa Coffee are the top brands of the corporation. Besides these brands, the company also has the following principal operations, namely Brewers Fayre, Table Table, Beefeater Grill, Whitbread Inns, and Taybarns (About us 2013). Therefore, the industries the company is involved into can be limited to hotels, coffee shops, and restaurants (Whitbread PLC 2015). Whitbread is one of the most recognised companies in the UK with its top quality budget hotels, restaurant industry, and coffee shops. Having operating these directions, the company has its business growing and constant positive reputation.
The Importance of Reputation to the Strategic Success
Reputation is a very important aspect in strategic success of any company. Working either for or against a company, it is important to guarantee that any company cares for its reputation as much as for its finances. Even though company reputation is not included in the company assets and cannot be touched physically, company income and success depend on it by being a factor that affects investor confidence, staff recruitment, supplier attitudes, and a myriad of other stakeholders in its capacity as relationship capital (Adeosun & Ganiyu 222). Analysing the importance of reputation in company success, it should be noted that positive stakeholder behaviour depends greatly on positive corporate reputation. Thus, the performance of the company and its results depend on the opinion that people have about it (Gatzert & Schmit 2015). Once spoiled, it is very difficult to renew positive reputation even if a company has chosen an effective business strategy. Goldberg, Cohen, and Fiegenbaum (2003) have offered four reputation strategies which may be applied to any corporation, namely dynamic exploitation of existing assets, development of core competencies, image management, and strategic alliances (p. 168). Depending on the needs and the reputation problems, the company should select any of the offered options and incorporate them into practice.
Public Relations and Public Image of Costa Coffee as a Part of Whitbread
Costa Coffee has already gained much access in the modern world. In 2013, the company managed to report about more than ?1 bn sales, having increased them by 22% during the year. If to speak about the company sales in the UK, the total sum increased by 24% to ?592 m without franchised outlets (Costa breaks through ?1 bn sales mark as tax anger leaves Starbucks suffering in 2013). These facts could not leave the brand without public attention and raised interest in the company. The experience of Costa Coffee in Totnes in 2012 can be considered as a good example of creating positive reputation. Having a desire to launch in the town, the management decided to refuse from idea referred to a letter written by the people of Totnes concerning the fact that Totnes is pretty independent and different as a town, and we're seeking to protect that (Costa Coffee pulls out of Totnes 2012). A closer look at the situation may show that the city had already 41 independent coffee outlets, and a national leader could change everything. Having decided to refuse from the initial plan, the company has shown interest in human thoughts and has created a positive reputation as a company which listens to peoples opinion and does everything possible to adjust to it. Public relations analyst Phil Morgan has confirmed that It was a sensible decision for a growing business. Responsiveness is the key to building trust and reputation and is as important as the quality of their coffee (Costa Coffee pulls out of Totnes 2012). Thus, having refused from launching in one city, the company has gained approval nationwide.
Many changes have been implemented in the reputation of different companies with the development of information technologies. In 2012, the mobile operator ISP O2 UK (Telefonica) announced about free services of Wi-Fi in Costa Coffee (Jackson, 2012). During the time when free Wi-Fi was a rare option, such public solution was aimed at raising companys reputation. However, the same information technologies could also negatively influence it. Thus, one of the users of a very popular tourist site tripadvisor.co.uk left a very negative review of the place in the same year having stated that Costa Coffee had uncomfortable chairs and free Wi-Fi... only for 30 minutes (Nata364 2012). The broad use of social networks and various review sites where people can leave their feedbacks may both improve or spoil reputation of the company.
Reputation plays a very important role in the modern world of high level of competition. If a company wants to be successful, it should support its reputation; otherwise, no success is guaranteed. Reputation may help the company appear at the top of sales and become a risk of bankruptcy. Costa Coffee, as a part of Whitbread, works hard on its reputation trying to satisfy populations wishes and needs. Being one of the first companies which implemented free Wi-Fi in its outlets, it has also refused from spreading its business in order to guarantee populations satisfaction.
- Uncomfortable chairs and free wifi is only for 30 minutes - Costa Coffee, London Traveller Reviews - Tripadvisor
- Equities, ETF and Funds prices, indices and stock quotes - FT.com