CONFERENCES: The TSA will bring together the entire spectrum of the industry through its Spring and Autumn conferences


The Spring conference organised by the Textile Services Association (TSA), headed up by its recently appointed supremo David Stevens, was a fresh, new and welcome event from an association that had, according to chairman Charlie Betteridge, in recent years seen “members voting with their feet” and leaving.

He paid tribute to former CEO Dr Philip Wright who, he said, did much to provide strategy and compliance during his tenure and he offered thanks to Robin Rhodes who acted as caretaker until a new CEO could be found.

However, he admitted: “Members were unhappy and supplier partners were unhappy. We were very lucky that David Stevens was available to take over the position part time. He has a huge advantage as he knows the industry. He was offered the job on the condition he agreed to buy a tie and started work straight away,” joked Betteridge. “One thing we must keep in mind going forward is that the TSA exists solely for its members.”

Stevens thanked Betteridge and took the stage for his first event in the hot seat, saying: “I am delighted to be here and proud to announce the delegate list for this event is at over 150, with 81 laundries present, 17 guests and 51 supplier partners.” (This was a significant improvement on the same time last year when a Special Interest Group (SIG) day attracted just 55 attendees.)

“We now need to work out exactly what members want,” said Stevens. “We all genuinely love this industry and we all want to talk about it, get on board and share ideas. Give it a conduit, and have a good time. We on the TSA board want to get on with things; in fact, I personally want everything at once but we do need to deliver the low hanging fruit first.”

The first of that low hanging fruit is a range of objectives to be rolled out over the next 12 months:

  • An events programmes coordinated by Laura-Jade Heseltine, TSA events manager, that is designed to engage with current members and grow membership with a comprehensive range of training, networking and communication forums. SIGs and Operations Managers Seminars are being replaced by a Spring and an Autumn conference. These conferences will be targeting management teams not just CEOs; and the National Conference, held in November, will now be called Congress.
  • Work from Knowledge Networks (see below) may well be used to form PR campaigns as TSA continues to work to raise the profile of the industry.
  • Training – TSA believes it can deliver real value here with courses that reflect the needs of the membership.
  • Technical advice – there is plenty online and TSA needs to communicate this to members and ensure it is accessible for them to use both as participants in the Knowledge Networks or simply as observers.
  • Budget – is being worked on as LCN goes to press and will be published in the Summer edition of TSA’s quarterly Advisor magazine.

Referring to existing strengths Stevens said the industry is already well on-message with the circular economy and made reference to the recent ETSA conference in Dublin last month where the subject was heavily debated.

He also pointed to the trove of archive material and resources available for members online at proposed: “We need to talk more with other trade associations so we don’t duplicate efforts.” He pointed to the excellent job ETSA is doing on evaluating the industry’s environmental impact along with work by the American association, TRSA and told the floor that closer links with the German trade association are being forged.

  • TSA Membership

The TSA brings together the entire spectrum of the industry through its Spring and Autumn conferences and the National Congress events, as well as facilitating regular industry-specific training – such as Engineering, Boiler Management and the Textile Rental Management Course. The TSA functions as a great platform to make the industry’s voice heard in the market place, as standards developers and as a regulatory body.

Visit to find out more.


Knowledge Networks

Shyju Skariah, TSA technical services manager updated delegates on the association’s Knowledge Networks, which have now been rebranded as:

  • Technical Standards – has been organising a PPE seminar to address recent changes in legislation; Safe operation of tunnel washers according to Code of Practice; and Boiler management training and competence course
  • Health & Safety – A H&S incidents reporting template has also been produced. This network also incorporates a fire safety group which is producing a set of Fire Best Practices.
  • People – currently working on Textile Care Operative apprenticeship among other services. Its focus is to identify industry training and education needs.
  • Special Projects – covers everything that does not fit into previous categories or falls across them. Logistics group falls with its remit with top priorities identified as:
    • Delivery point safety
    • Risk management and reduction
    • Recruitment, retention and training
    • Vehicle technology and design
    • Best practice/knowledge sharing/benchmarking



David Kinson, TSA learning advisor told delegates that TSA is now concentrating on England only as Scotland up and running. “The most you can put towards it is £4,000 fully funded if a company has fewer than 50 employees, and apprentices are 16-18.

You can work together with other local companies to make just one cohort for example resulting one cohort of six instead of three cohorts of two.

“Finding a trainer has been difficult so we have had to make a commitment of numbers in year one. We reckon 100 in year one and 150 subsequently. We now have NTG, based in Chester, up and running with the standard to member and non-member companies.

“As a result of work gone into that we now have other training providers in different parts of country who are willing to come on board.

“End point assessment needs to be carried out by an independent body. Costs are taken out of the grant but the maximum is only 20% so it will never more than £800 per person. I am happy to announce that ABC Awards is taking on endpoint assessment role. It was announced today. It is the final big piece of the jigsaw. We have done a considerable amount of work with ABC – 400 questions and assessors to identify. By seeking an independent external endpoint there is no commercial interference. TSA is taking active role support this qualification.”



Alaistair Hopkins, TSA technical and H&S expert presented a paper on Safety Matters, and spoke about fire prevention, revised TSA H&S documentation and the CTW entry code of practice.

He said that he has spent his life encouraging businesses, people and managers and managers to prevent accidents. He exhorted delegates: “Do not have the problem in the first place. Be proactive! It is better keeping H&S strategy as simple as we can.

“If you have a mature process you tend layer into it as you learn as things go wrong. You can subsequently end up with over-complex management rules you have to work with. Invest time on proactive rather than reactive things.”

He said that the downside of prevention is that “it will cost time, effort and in some cases money and you will hit a barrier. Don’t stop there go over or around that”.

He also warned delegates to be conscious of the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 which states companies and organisations can be found guilty of corporate manslaughter as a result of serious management failures resulting in a gross breach of a duty of care.

Prosecutions are now of the corporate body and not individuals, but the liability of directors, board members or other individuals under health and safety law or general criminal law, will be unaffected. And the corporate body itself and individuals can still be prosecuted for separate health and safety offences.

On fire prevention work, he said that the industry history of catastrophic fires is not good. “Insurance companies see us a big risk. Hot work, electricals, spontaneous combustion, lint, hot equipment – we are putting combustible materials into a hot environment”.

At a recent meeting,proposed to focus on medium-to-small businesses that needed more help and support. Basic practical guidance is needed rather than policies.

”Practical advice in a one page straightforward document would be ideal but not always possible,” he commented. However, TSA will produce one with limited text and accessible language with diagrams and pictures. It is not designed to replace anything in individual systems but as a supplement.” to take away and use,” said Hopkins.



A joint presentation by Shyju Skariah and Richard Newton, TSA technical expert, reviewed the progress made so far on CCA.

“From our lobbying ability to qualify for the CCA scheme to our latest target performance results, success has been written all over the industry’s CCA scheme. Jacobs, the TSA’s CCA scheme administrators have provisionally declared the TP3 results. Although achieving the last few percentages in our CCA target performance was going to be difficult, we have achieved a very encouraging 24.75% sector performance against the TP3 target of 20.83%.

“At the recent CCA seminar, the industry’s energy managers and engineers came together to discuss ways to go beyond the 25% target for the 2020 reporting period (TP4). Easy low-hanging fruit are still available to be picked in the area of wash programs, machinery optimisation, boiler management and so on.

“Even as the industry’s CCA scheme holders secured over £4.5m collectively in levy discounts compared to a small carbon buy-out price in 2017-18, the TSA and Jacobs are lobbying for a new CCA phase after 2023 when the current CCA scheme is planned for completion. We hope to have updates on a possible future CCA scheme in due time.”

The TSA has also been exploring opportunities to secure further energy efficiency funding available from BEIS and other Government agencies on innovative projects and heat recovery programmes.

Please contact if you are considering an innovative project or heat recovery machinery installation. TSA members may well be eligible for Government funding.


RFID: Is it still the way forward?

As might be expected from representatives from two leading suppliers of the genre, Robert Tye, ABS and Julien Buros, Datamars, were emphatic that RFID is delivering on all fronts. However, Tye promised to focus on real life situations globally. “I’m not selling, just putting out a picture.  Between 2011 and 2019 52 % of linen rental businesses have taken on RFID. Think of a place you want to scan stock and you can. Cloud connectivity gives the facility to put readers in at customers’ premises and to track  data back almost instantly .”

Referring to the flexibility in application of RFID he told about a reader scan and alert at reception at the exclusive Hoyle Country Club that sets off alarm when people try to smuggle towels out, which could be useful for hospitality and leisure sites. He also highlighted integrated ERP solutions which help in production and integrated packing solutions. Meanwhile, hand held devices mean operators can  go into linen cupboards and know how long each item has been onsite and  identify live that customers  have overstocked. “When you do see mass hoarding, you can talk to the customer to  get them to use them straight away. You could also penalise monetarily customers who are holding on to your stock.”

He added that RFID gives facts and figure on how customers are using, and abusing, the laundry. As for ROI, in two years operators should see the benefits on what is a long-term investment. He also stated that RFID is all about inventory control; however clever AI may be, it won’t be able to show you the history of items

“Super slim tags just 7mm wide are now being rolled out,” said Ty.e. “The fifth generation will be 30% smaller still. It will be a thread eventually, I am sure.”

Datamars’ Buros explained that improvements are coming including information on environment addressing more than just loss reduction. “So where now? There are currently more than 200 million UHF tags in use that have been produced over the past four years.” Forty countries have 5,0000 reading points.

He admits there are still, however, obstacles to adopting RFID systems. “Putting it into a new operation is not a problem but aligning with current laundry businesses can be a challenge, as well as getting customers to change their ways. There is definitely more accuracy on linen control with RFID. The key is to plan carefully, test and train properly.

“It used to be a choice between closed or open systems. With an open system there was a risk you would read everything around the trolley. A closed system shields from this and with the reader on maximum power doesn’t stop flow. Now an open system that can confine to defined volumes gives the benefits of both worlds.”


Giving people a second chance

Darren Burns of Timpson told delegates about a groundbreaking Timpson Foundation pilot scheme designed to aid recruitment of individuals from marginalised groups in society.

Timpson is the largest and oldest retailer established in1885 (the same year that LCN launched originally) and is a well-known sight on the High Street offering shoe repairs, key cutting, drycleaning and so on. “Not bad for a small bunch of cobblers,” quipped Burns.

Burns explained: “The Timpson Foundation was founded by CEO James Timpson, back in 2002 after a visit to HMP Thorn Cross, his first time at a prison. An inmate named Matt made an impression on James. ‘Surely there must be hundreds and thousands like him in prison?’ he thought and slipped Matt a business card and said get in touch on his release. Matt is still working for Timpson and the company actively recruits ex-offenders into the business directly from prison.

“Most of the 84,000 people who are currently in custody will at some point be released back into society. Release On Temporary Licence (ROTL) enables serving prisoners who are coming to end of their sentence to leave prison every day to work in the community. All prisoners who are eligible for ROTL are very carefully risk-assessed and managed to ensure the safety of the public.

“We believe ROTL provides people with an essential bridge between custody and release and allows them to prepare for gradual integration back into society. At Timpson, we have many ROTL colleagues who leave prison every morning, complete a day’s work in one of our shops, and return to their cell at the end of their working day.

“This scheme has proven a huge success and is a great recruitment avenue. Our branch colleagues build a strong rapport with the individual and offer them support and guidance. Invariably, their transition from custody to the workplace goes smoothly. Many of our ROTL colleagues have gone on to enjoy successful careers with Timpson upon release.

 “Rather than prisoners completing menial tasks whilst in custody, which are unlikely to lead to employment, we provide them with practical training to better prepare them for employment upon release. This in turn, can make a positive impact on our communities by helping to reduce re-offending rates. Our training academies mimic our High Street stores and enable prisoners to be trained in all the services we provide. The only exception to this is key cutting, for obvious reasons.

“Once a prisoner has completed a period of training and is released, they are already fully skilled in our services and raring to go. Our training academies allow individuals to feel a valued part of the Timpson or the Max Photo team and this can also help restore confidence and self-esteem. On their day of release, we will often meet them at the prison gates and introduce them to their new colleagues and provide them with uniform, lunch and settle them in to their new home.”

“We believe this approach is extremely effective in ensuring our ex-offender colleagues have a much-needed head start and can help them transition smoothly into the workplace. This proven approach to training and recruitment is now copied by other leading firms. We have an impressive ex-offender retention rate of approximately 75% and that makes everyone in the business who plays a part in ex-offender resettlement extremely proud.”

Burns said: “Before we do a through risk assessment, initially we ask the Governor to identify some people who might benefit from the scheme and who must be able to engage. Most of these come and work for us full time and we have a success rate of 95 per cent who will work for us for two years

“We rent space in the prisons where we have replicated Timpson workspace – a prison training academy – where we teach people how, for example, to transfer files from VHS tapes to DVD. The training academies are all different and allow for full training in all our services. We drop a complete High Street model into a prison and expect our trainees to turn up every morning. We continuously monitor them and ultimately have an 85% retention rate.”

“At Timpson, we feel it is the right thing to do. So many people with convictions are thrown on the scrapheap. Custody costs stand at £50,00 pa. It is good for all of us. Ex-offenders have gainful employment and it keeps them from re-offending,” Burns said. “This way communities are safer, and there is less crime. We do it because it is good business. The staff recruited in this manner tend to be loyal, productive and grateful. Statistically more honest than mainstream recruits and with ex-offenders we know everything about them and they tend to be a much safer bet than somebody who walks in off the street.”

Are there any ex-offenders Timpson won’t touch, though? “Yes,” admitted Burns. “We raise the bar high. Sex offenders – we don’t want them full stop. Or arsonists – we cannot get the public liability insurance and we don’t touch terrorists. We would give an opportunist  burglar a chance but we would not recruit anybody who has been convicted of a hate crime or who has robbed and hurt an old person in their home, for example.”

Rebecca Morgan of Johnson Afonwen, from the floor, also told of the laundry’s commitment to enable jobs for category B offenders. “It’s about the skills these guys have. iIt is a very positive experience. We wouldn’t do it if it was bad for business,” she said. More on this in a future issue.



The Fashion & Textile Children’s Trust (FTCT) is a small charity with a long history of providing financial support to families in the UK fashion and textile industry. The charity was founded in 1853, the year before author and campaigner for social justice Charles Dicken’ novel Hard Times was published. Charles Dickens, who later became chairman of appeal (or fundraiser as we would term it nowadays) in 1856.

Anna Pangbourne, director of the FTCT, said: “We believe no fashion or textile family should struggle financially to meet their child’s basic needs. We want every parent who has worked in the textile or textile care industry in the past nine years for a minimum of one year to know about us and have our information.

“A grant is a grant, not a loan. It does not need to paid back. It is to support children in families where parents or carers cannot meet the financial needs of a child. It could be for PE kit, uniforms or even kitchen white goods, sensory toys, therapy specialist equipment. That is just a flavour of what we do. The grant value is anything between £350 -£5,000 (the latter figure was for a kinetic wheelchair for a child with cerebral palsy). We cradle that family so they feel supported.” Companies are encouraged to nominate employees for grants.

Find out more at