An agreement between Next, the clothes retailer, and Johnsons may be causing concern among independent drycleaners but it should also be raising a number of significant questions for the cleaning sector to address.

The agreement involves Next down-filled jackets for women. The garments carry a care label stating that, for specialist cleaning advice, a cost-free telephone number should be dialled. On calling the number, a Johnsons hotline, Next customers—and drycleaners—are advised to take the jacket to the nearest Johnsons shop.

The down-filled jackets are aqueous processed at a central plant. The price is £12.95 per jacket.

While it may be tempting to condemn this care label practice as unfair, are not Next and Johnsons acting responsibly—endeavouring to ensure that the down-filled jackets are cleaned in the best possible way? While the price might seem high to some, are not strong arguments made in the cleaning sector to charge prices which allow for a reasonable profit? Could not this be seen as a move in that direction? The process must be right and so must the price.

If the practice is shrewd marketing, then in must be praiseworthy. Could not an independent cleaner make arrangements with local clothes retailers to have buyers of garments directed to his or her shop?