A bottled water company selling itself to hospitality operators on the promise that all profits go to clean water projects only becomes operationally profitable this year - four years after it began trading, Caterer has learnt.
Belu, which is used by London eateries Quo Vadis, Sketch and Nobu, restaurant groups D&D London and Café Rouge and London's Cavendish hotel, was set up in 2002 and began trading in 2004.
However, the company's accounts at Companies House show that it has not achieved a pre-tax profit since being set up. Its 2007 accounts are overdue.
A Belu spokesman said that the company had realised it would take time to become operationally profitable and that, to meet its commitments, it has been making donations to clean water projects from trading profit (profit from water sales once manufacturing and distribution costs are stripped out).
He could not, however, supply a value for the donations to date. Belu has been "operationally profitable through this calendar year," the spokesman added.
To date, Belu has supported four clean water projects - in India, Mali, Madagascar and Bangladesh - where, between the four countries, wells and hand pumps provide water for more than 40,000 people.
Belu conceded that its claims to be "helping clean the Thames" with a rubbish muncher - carried on its bottle packaging - were exaggerated. The company has had talks with charity Thames 21, which arranges sponsorship for the Thames's rubbish munchers, but nothing has been agreed.
Instead, Belu - which aims to publish a full audited report of its environmental activities to date in December - said that it was now planning to build its own muncher to launch on the river from next spring.
Exclusive by Chris Druce
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