Managing a huge range of facilities on behalf of Local Authorities, award winning leisure operator Places for People Leisure helps communities to stay physically active and engaged in fitness, sports, health and wellbeing. The company is part of the Places for People (PfP) group, one of the UK’s biggest property management, development, regeneration and leisure companies, with assets of more than £3 billion. Places for People Leisure is characterised by a highly diverse estate, with widely varying requirements and demand in gas, electricity and water.
“We use 129 million kilowatt hours of gas each year,” says Chris Williams, Group Environmental & Utility Manager at Places for People Leisure. “For half-hourly metered electricity, it’s around 35.5 million kilowatt hours per annum. In terms of sites, in the facilities and resources we provide to customers, we couldn’t have a more extreme range: from a single running track with electricity for lights, up to a huge leisure centre with multiple pools and facilities, making it a heavy energy user.” For electricity, minimum site consumption is 113,000 kWh per annum while the highest site consumption is 1.7m kWh. Williams says that it’s a similar picture for gas: from tiny consumption of 205,000 kWh at a small site to a major facility that uses 7.5m kWh per annum. “Most sites are Local Authority owned, and we run them on behalf of the council, but we also build facilities ourselves,” he adds.
Consultus has provided Places for People Leisure with energy and cost reduction services and support for the last few years, including Energy Purchasing Advice, Supplier Contract Negotiation, Procurement, Account Management, Market Intelligence and New Connections. The business has a ‘fluid portfolio’ due to the nature of the contracts it enters into, with Consultus expertise supporting 75 sites using gas and 62 using HH electricity. More recently, the company has been helping Places for People Leisure to procure water supplies.
“We’ve conducted a number of selection processes over the years, Williams continues. “When I started, the business already worked with Consultus. We ran a procurement exercise, starting with five companies. Consultus provided a better deal, by far, than the others. That included price, but the service Consultus offered was also clearly far better. It’s not always about price alone.”
Services now provided include support for contracting with suppliers, bespoke reporting, providing market intelligence and advice – Places for People Leisure then buys its energy direct from a supplier – and portfolio management, which includes communicating changes to suppliers and keeping contracts up to date. Consultus also works with Places for People Leisure to bring new sites into the portfolio, close down old accounts and provide connections for new supplies.
Account management meetings are held regularly, with Consultus experts assisting with budgets and tracking market prices against budget. “Our account manager is excellent: very experienced. And I can talk to somebody whenever I want, right up to the MD, so any issues are resolved quickly.
“We don’t only use Consultus to support procurement,” Williams says. “They also do site work, and meter operator (MOP) contracts: other ‘added value’ work. We have a very good working relationship. And we have the web portal to explore what is happening at all of our sites. Having the ability to see that data is excellent. More recently, we have started working with Consultus on the water side, including a new contract with one of the UK’s biggest water suppliers. We’ve saved money but it’s early days, and we are looking forward to advice from Consultus on the best ways to proceed.”
He adds, “The biggest benefit provided by Consultus is the quality of the advice that we receive, when certain trigger points are reached, on when and what to buy. Then we purchase the gas and electricity we need. We can purchase energy in a far better way. If we’d gone the fixed price route, we’d have been far worse off over three years. Being able to track the market and handle energy purchasing in this way, with Consultus advising on market trends, has saved us significant amounts of money. We’re now working on the next round of non-HH contracts, and Consultus will also tender that for us. They are really on the ball.”
“We work with Consultus to ensure the best possible deal with the best supplier. And it’s not only about price: we also value the great customer service.”