“Our business is crumbling before our eyes” – Wimbledon laundry speaks out on what lack of support is doing to the industry

Lack of response is making a tough situation worse, says director of Dash Linen

Dash Linen of Wimbledon, a family business with over thirty years of experience, operates a bespoke, high quality laundry service for a wide range of restaurants in London and the surrounding area. Like many commercial laundries it has been left to cope with the reduction in their business caused by the Covid-19 pandemic with no financial assistance from the government, putting the future of an industry that plays a key role in the hospitality sector at risk.  “We’ve been watching our business crumble before our eyes,” says Edward Syed, director of Dash Linen. 

The Textile Services Association (TSA) is once again amplifying its concerns about the government’s continued lack of support for businesses within the hospitality supply chain. The vital role commercial laundries play in keeping hotels, restaurants and a range of hospitality businesses running is being overlooked, and could disrupt the expected recovery.

The TSA has been urging the government to provide the same level of help to commercial laundries supplying the hospitality industry that other businesses in the sector have been receiving. That includes rates relief; amending the guidance to local authorities on discretionary grants, so that commercial laundries can be included; deferment of VAT until payback is viable; extending the terms of government loans until laundries can afford to repay them; and making more loans available during the bounce back.

The experience of Dash Linen is typical of the stories the TSA has been hearing from its members since the first lockdown began last March.  “The majority of our customers have been closed since the first lockdown,” says Edward. “We’ve lost a few altogether, as they change their operation, and some have gone bankrupt owing us money. It’s a difficult situation for everyone but it’s not being made better by the government’s scattershot approach to which businesses receive help and which don’t.”

The lack of support has already caused staff redundancies. “Before the pandemic we were employing 63 people. We had to make 14 people redundant in June 2020 after our request for grants was turned down, and since then another five have left of their own accord,” says Edward. “We’ve had a very low staff turnover, normally. Some of our staff have worked with us for over 20 years – it’s a very difficult situation. And needless to say, making everyone redundant would put us in an even worse situation.”

During the period where restrictions were eased, Edward noticed a significant drop in business compared to before the pandemic. “We used to be working six days a week. But at that time, despite the hospitality sector opening up, it was down to two.”

Edward thinks the relative invisibility of the hospitality laundry industry might be behind the government’s lack of response. “Very few people know how many businesses rely on commercial laundries,” he explains. “If you look at every piece of linen in a restaurant, or every piece of cloth in a hotel, it will be regularly cleaned by a laundry. But this is a hidden side to these industries.  The importance of ensuring that supply companies like us, who are vital to keep other companies running, are receiving the right help isn’t getting through to the right people.

“We’ve built this company up through hard work, and while we’ve never been eager to claim money from the government it’s in situations like this, where almost all of our customers have had to stop operating, that we really need the support – and we’ve just been ignored,” says Edward. “It feels particularly unfair considering the reports of how much money has been going to giant chains that haven’t been particularly affected by Covid-19.”

Without support, it is difficult for companies like Dash Linen to plan for the future. “At the beginning of December 2020 we were thinking that we might at least have an idea of how long it would take to get back to normality, but then we were put into Tier Four and lockdown and it seems like the government is still playing everything by ear, hoping things will somehow just work themselves out.”

Keeping the company going during these trying times has been difficult, and has caused a lot of stress for Edward and his family. “Dad started this business, built it up from nothing,” says Edward. “Seeing something that you’ve invested so much of your life into put at threat through no fault of your own, of following the government’s rules and then being left out to dry, has been really tough for him, and me too.”

Edward hopes that the government looks again at its rules and reconsiders the limits in place for which companies are eligible for assistance. “At a minimum, we need rate relief for at least a year,” he says. “But the council keeps deferring making a decision about it. Similarly, eligibility for support from local authorities is set by how much rates you pay. We moved above the cut-off point by just £1000 at the end of 2019 after investing in a larger building, but it’s marginal and it doesn’t change the fact that hardly any of our customers have been operating for almost a year.

“The hospitality supply chain is being overlooked by the government, and it’s putting a lot of companies at risk. This will only cause yet more problems further down the line: without us, much of the hospitality industry can’t operate.  I just hope that the government realises its responsibility to SMEs in this sector before it’s too late.”

For more about Dash Linen visit dashlinen.co.uk

If you wish to discuss the above or if you would like any further information, please do not hesitate to contact us on 020 3151 5600 or at tsa@tsa-uk.org.

Laundry Cost Index: 2020/2021 FYQ3

Laundry Cost Index

Please see our latest published Laundry Cost Index for 2020/2021 FYQ3 below. FYQ3 constitutes data for October, November and December 2020 months as per the latest release of quarterly energy prices by BEIS (Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy). Additionally, please note the previously used indexes for Textiles and Other Transport have been discontinued and replaced with new indexes due to recent methodology changes by the Office for National Statistics.

If you have any queries or would like any further information, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

T: +44 (0)20 3151 5600
E: tsa@tsa-uk.org

Update from the TSA Chief Executive

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Christeyns Staff Support Local Food Bank

8 January 2021

Staff at local hygiene chemicals manufacturer Christeyns UK helped support the Bradford Metropolitan Food Bank with donations over the festive period.

Throughout the month of December, staff at Christeyns donated over 570kg of food items for those in need across the Bradford district.  The initiative, organised by Donna Holt, from the Production Department, was well supported by employees from all areas of the business with Christeyns offering to fund-match the value of the donated items.

Bradford Metropolitan Food Bank is a small, registered charity, in operation since 2004.  Run entirely by volunteers, the charity receives donations of non-perishable foods from the community to give free of charge to organisations working with vulnerable people in need of food.

Donna, along with a team of staff helpers, delivered all the donated items to the Food Bank just prior to Christmas ready to be parceled up for distribution.

Juile Woodhurst, volunteer at the Food Bank commented: “Donations like these from the local community are so important in supporting those most vulnerable in our society.  We really appreciate the efforts and kindness from the staff at Christeyns in helping us build bridges across the community.”

Sunak Snub for Hospitality Supply Chain

TSA Fury as Laundries get Ready for Closures – Twelve months of hell for the hospitality laundry sector

Despite growing awareness of the hospitality supply chain, and its importance to any future recovery, the Chancellor still hasn’t included it in the support packages he has just announced.  It’s yet another snub for the laundry sector, says the TSA (Textile Services Association), which has been lobbying for support since March 2020.

“Come March 2021 the hospitality laundry sector will have been through twelve months of hell,” says David Stevens, CEO of the TSA.  “We’d normally be processing 24 million pieces of hotel linen a week.  Currently it’s less than 2 million.  Our industry is dying and we’re getting no support.  24,000 jobs and hundreds of SMEs are under threat.  I just don’t understand the government’s indifference.”

The TSA has been working with UK Hospitality and other supply chain organisations, such as the FEA (Foodservice Equipment Association), to try to get the government to understand the vital role the supply chain plays.  As Kate Nicholls OBE, CEO of UK Hospitality says, “Hotels can’t operate without laundries.”

Tony Danker, the Director-General of the CBI is also supportive of the critical role the supply chain plays.  “We will be urging the government to take further steps to provide the foundations for the all-important economic recovery, particularly those affected through supply chains,” he says.

The TSA is not asking for special treatment, just for the same level of help as other businesses are already getting.  That includes rates relief; amending the guidance to local authorities on discretionary grants, so that commercial laundries can be included; deferment of VAT until payback is viable; extending the terms of government loans until laundriescan afford to repay them; and making more loans available during expected bounce back.

“We’d be delighted if any government minister would come and visit some of our members to see for themselves the straits they are in,” says Stevens.  “This is deadly serious.  Closures are coming.  We have family businesses that have been operating successfully for over a hundred years that are about to go under.  They’ve already re-mortgaged their houses, they’ve nowhere else to go.

“Without support, many of our members will disappear, along with tens of thousands of jobs.”

If you wish to discuss the above or if you would like any further information, please do not hesitate to contact us on  020 3151 5600 or at tsa@tsa-uk.org.

Industry Insights for Students from Christeyns

4 January 2021

Local hygiene chemicals manufacturer Christeyns UK has been giving some first hand advice and support to local students working on their City & Guilds Level 2 Diploma.

Commercial Director Justin Kerslake, along with Stacey King, Zach Adams and Lucy Duckworth have been helping a group of Aspire-igen students with a project that goes towards their Business qualifications.

Aspire-igen is a Yorkshire based social enterprise committed to changing lives for the better through learning and work.  The brief was to create a new fabric conditioner for the spa market and students were given the technical, marketing and forecasting aspects they needed to consider and include in their final presentations via online video conferencing.

The students then presented their new product ideas back to the team a couple of weeks later, with Managing Director Nick Garthwaite also on hand to see the results. 

The City & Guilds Level 2 Diploma in Business Support is for students aged from 16-19 years old and aimed at learners that are looking to start a career in a business support role, or students who want to improve their business knowledge and skills and progress to further learning.

Business Tutor Fozia Ahmed explains: “At Aspire-igen we are all about real life experiences, and welcome employer interactions.  Christeyns has been a longstanding supporter of our learners and we also work closely with the firm during Bradford Manufacturing Weeks.

“Intervention from actual companies is crucial in helping young people meet the skills needed for employment in local industries.”

Christeyns staff members and apprentices are actively involved in many school career events and learning projects across the district, highlighting the important role of the manufacturing industry and its future employment opportunities.

“Businesses like ours need to provide knowledge and support to the young people in our communities, inspiring future career paths and upcoming talent,” concludes Justin.

For further information visit

www.christeyns.com

ww.aspire-igen.com