Laundry And Hospitality Industries Confident They Can Meet The Challenges Ahead

Laundry and hospitality industries restate the importance of collaboration at the TSA conference

The importance of collaboration was one of the main messages to come out of the hospitality round table panel discussion held at the Textile Services Association’s (TSA) autumn conference.

The event brought together representatives of some of the biggest names in both the laundry and hospitality sectors to discuss the issues facing both industries and the potential for positive change in an uncertain business environment. It is the third such event that has been held this year, which provides a forum for both industries to discuss the challenges ahead.

The panel was chaired by David Stevens, the CEO of the TSA, and featured Nigel Graham of Bourne Leisure, and Michael Simpson-Jones of Travelodge representing hospitality. Helen Wood of Johnsons Hotel Linen and Rona Tait of TDS Commercial were there to provide the views from the laundry industry.

One of the main concerns highlighted at the previous meetings was the need to improve the working life span of linen used by hotels. Only a small percentage of the 7000 tonnes of linen purchased every year by the hospitality sector reaches its potential end-of-life.

Since the previous round table, the TSA has set up a project group looking at creating guidance around best practice for linen and the logistics needed to maximise its working life for the hospitality industry. Nigel Graham who is a part of this group, explained the importance of the two industries working together to develop knowledge of the significance of valuing linen and understanding the challenges both industries face.

Rona Tait, who chairs the group, explained that many housekeepers don’t understand the importance of linen from a sustainability perspective, stressing the need for better training.

Helen Wood underlined the point that any approach to improving the sustainability of hotel linen needs to be done as a partnership. “You don’t hire a car and damage it without expecting to pay for it,” she said. “But we need to avoid playing the blame game and realise that we can’t solve this situation on our own – we need to work together.”

Michael believes that having a relationship where both sides feel confident about discussing common issues and being open to change is vital. “We need to make sure that both industries stick to their commitments and consider the supply chain as a whole.”

From left To Right, Rona Tait of TDS Commercial, Michael Simpson-Jones of Travelodge and, at the lectern, David Stevens of the TSA

The last couple of years have seen both industries cope with challenging business environments, but while 2023 looks likely to see problems continue both industries are optimistic that they are well placed to weather the storm. “The UK’s holiday industry has historically held up well during economic downturns,” says Nigel. However, as people tend to book hotels close to when they need them, hotels need to be quick to react with demand forecasting to enable laundries to be able to keep up with the demand as it changes.

This is particularly true as there are potentially different variables at play with the rising cost pressures many consumers are facing and how that will play out next year. While Rona noted that she had seen volumes from hotels hold up, Helen noted that there was a difference across hotel groups and that this indicated that consumers were changing their behaviour.

The panel agreed that one of the main positives that came out of the pandemic was that it had acted as a “catalyst for change” and that it had provided the momentum for both industries to come together and work to improve things. “We wouldn’t have had these conversations before Covid,” Rona explained. “We are now seen as more of a critical supplier,” said Helen. “There is a different partnership now, it has definitely raised the bar.”

As Michael summed it up, “every challenge brings new opportunities.”

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How Hazardous Are Nurses’ Uniforms? DMU And TSA Call For Change In NHS Guidance

‘World class’ research shows domestic washing machines are inadequate decontaminators

Over 700,000 nurses in the UK wash their uniforms at home. The figure is even higher when you take into account other healthcare workers. The NHS encourages nurses to maintain and care for healthcare workwear at home, even where outsourcing to a commercial laundry is available. However, new research carried out be De Montfort University (DMU), supported by the Textile Services Association (TSA), suggests that this practice is hazardous, proving that some domestic machines are not up to the task of decontaminating clothes. Now DMU and TSA are calling on the NHS to change the guidance.

The research (Variable decontamination efficacy of domestic washing machines: potential risks for home laundering of healthcare uniforms) was carried out by DMU’s Infectious Disease Research Group, with funding from the TSA. It was presented at the Infection Prevention Society (IPS) Conference in October 2022.

The aim of the research was to assess the ability of home washing machines to meet the minimum disinfection standards set by the NHS in HTM 01-04 (Decontamination of linen for health and social care, updated 31/08/2021).  Six different domestic models were used, of different ages and manufacturers, to ensure the ‘real world’ authenticity of the testing.  In addition, DMU and TSA developed an accurate methodology that is able to validate the ability of a washing process to disinfect textile products – especially those used in healthcare, food manufacturing, pharmaceuticals and other sectors where there is a need for high-care textile maintenance.

The results confirmed the inadequacy of domestic washing machines to consistently achieve the essential requirements of heat, chemistry and mechanical action required for decontamination.   NHS Guidelines recommend that healthcare workers launder their uniforms at 60C.  In fact, in the tests, none of the machines actually got up to 60C, either on standard or rapid wash programmes.  It shows that healthcare workers taking their uniforms home to wash cannot be confident, at the end of the wash, that their uniform has been fully disinfected.  This leaves their households under risk of cross contamination from pathogens that they may bring home from work.

“The TSA has always argued that nurses’ uniforms should be washed professionally,” says David Stevens, CEO at the TSA.  “PHE (Public Health England) and other departments have said there was not enough evidence to prove the inadequacy of domestic washing machines.

“Well, there is now.  And it’s based on world-class research from some of the most respected names in the field of infectious diseases.”

TSA believes that the NHS will have to change its polices in the light of the research.  “The need to change is even more pressing given the huge rise in energy prices,” says Stevens.  “HMRC policies allow healthcare workers to be given allowances to launder unforms at home.  But these no longer cover the costs, so they are out of pocket as well.”

Moreover, TSA believes the required shift in management practices will be good news for the NHS.  “Washing in commercial laundries, whether on site or outsourced, will result not only in safer homes and workplaces, but also offer the NHS significant efficiencies and economies of scale,” says Stevens.

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TSA Urges Further Action From Government To Guarantee Future Of Laundry Industry

Long term plans are required to prevent vital industry missing out on essential support

The Textile Services Association (TSA) is highlighting the concerns of its members regarding the rise in energy prices and the potentially disastrous effects they could have on the UK’s hospitality industry over the coming year. These issues have been highlighted by the results of two surveys the TSA conducted on the views of its members in August and September 2022 and demonstrate the need for continued action on top of the six month emergency price cap for businesses announced in the emergency budget.

The first survey took place in August and was focussed on the post Covid recovery in business.  The results showed signs of optimism but also indicated some ongoing issues. It indicated that 83% of commercial laundries have returned to or increased their pre-pandemic turnover, and 79% anticipated turnover to be on a similar trajectory in 2023. However, 79% reported issues with supply chains, in particular difficulties with equipment, spare parts and linen.

The second survey was taken in early September, before the energy price cap was announced. It aimed to take a snapshot of the concerns of the laundry regarding the increasing costs of energy. 85% of responding laundries service a range of essential and influential sectors, including healthcare, education, hospitality and critical manufacturing among others. The majority of respondents have already seen energy prices increasing anywhere from 200 to 500% since 2019, and many were anticipating further increases between 300-600% for 2023.

“While the government’s announcement of a six month price cap will undoubtedly help laundries throughout the winter months, the price increases that have already taken place are having a huge impact on many of them,” says David Stevens, CEO of TSA. “We feel that further steps are necessary to prevent real problems when the current scheme ends.”

The laundry industry is vital to the UK’s hospitality sector but, as it is a hidden part of the supply chain, it has often been overlooked for government support during the crises of the last few years. “The government needs to take a big picture view of these situations,” says Stevens. “The laundry industry needs to be included as one of the sectors that receives further support once the six months is up. We cannot wait half a year to find out what is happening – we need a clear long term support strategy now, to allow us to plan for the future.”

“We are encouraged by the signs that MPs are increasingly aware of the importance of laundries to the UK economy as a whole,” says David. “We will continue to lobby on behalf of our members, and the whole commercial laundry industry, but we need to see hard evidence that the government has also understood the message”

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Laundry Cost Index: 2022/2023 FYQ2