It is good to hear that the Textiles Services Association has turned round its finances so successfully. As LCN has always argued, trade associations have a valuable role to play in their industries and the TSA has represented its members and the textile care industry well.

It has gained notable achievements such as the recent Climate Change Levy agreement, where persistant lobbying over a long period finally provided a good result.

The way of trade associations, however, is changing. Where in the past such bodies were content to stand alone, they are now proactively co-operating with other similar organisations, finding much common ground where they can work together, though without losing sight of their specific identity.

TSA and The Guild of Cleaners and Launderers have long organised a yearly joint conference. Since 2007 they have pooled administrative resources with the Guild Secretariat moving to TSA offices. Importantly each retains its separate specific interests – The Guild is a training and examination body, while TSA is a trade association. Last year the TSA moved into the premises of the UK Fashion and Textiles Association and later this year the two will move into a new home in fully refurbished offices. Both organisations are already exploring the benefits of closer association, with plans to work together on common concerns.

In August last year LCN began reporting on problems that some UK drycleaners were experiencing with Next curtains that had a coated lining. These are believed to relate to the curtain’s exposure to UV light and if this has been extensive the coating may flake during drycleaning. The problem may be relatively rare but when it does occur can lead to the need to clean out the still and possibly contaminate other items in the load. At each report, Next was always given the right to reply. TSA had also been dealing with reports of similar problems from its members and also from consumers.

In February this year TSA hosted a meeting attended by Next’s supplier, TSA’s Murray Simpson and Beverley Long, industry representatives and myself as LCN editor. At the meeting Murray Simpson expressed the hope that the industry, Next and its supplier could work together on a solution.

That hope now seems to be met in part as Next has now introduced a more formalised procedure for consumers who find their local drycleaner (understandably) unwilling to accept the curtains for cleaning. Next will also be gathering more detailed information about the complaints it receives. It is also investigating other options for the curtains including the possibility of making the lining detachable so that the curtains could be cleaned on their own.

However some doubts remain in my mind. The company has also issued two recommendations, which the cleaners it uses are following, with says Next, successful results.

The first is to follow the care-label but, in my experience, cleaners who have had problems have done so. The second is to clean the curtains on a separate load – a recommendation that, while it may limit the effect of any problems, is not always practical and could affect a cleaner’s solvent mileage under the SED. I have made both these points to Next and hope the dialogue can continue.

Janet Taylor –