The Textile Services Association (TSA) Autumn Conference, took place on 5 October at the Hilton St George’s Park, Burton upon Trent and was opened by its Chair Charlie Betteridge whose message was: “It’s a gloomy outlook but we will get through it.” David Stevens, TSA CEO, followed up, wryly thanking Betteridge for his “cheerful introduction” and continued with the news that TSA continues to lobby the Government and that there is evidence that the laundry industry is “in the pot” for emergency relief in the crisis, saying: “We want to be recognised as essential and high energy intensive. We don’t want to be the latter, but we are…”.

He said that the results of two surveys of TSA members in August and September demonstrate the need for continued action on top of the Government’s promised six-month emergency price cap for businesses.

The first survey in August focused on the post-Covid recovery of 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 conducted in September, before the energy price cap was announced, was designed to take a snapshot of concerns regarding the increasing energy costs. Eighty-five per cent of responding laundries service a range of essential and influential sectors, including healthcare, education, hospitality and critical manufacturing among others. The majority of respondents has already seen energy prices increasing anywhere from 200% to 500% since 2019. Many were anticipating further increases between 300%-600% for 2023. (Read more here https://www. guarantee-future-of-laundry-industry- 10055785/)

In August, TSA and UKHospitality (UKH) had a second round table looking at joint industry challenges, reported Stevens. The event, was broadly based around the current situation in commercial laundry services, how they operate within the hospitality ecosystem and the broader challenges both industries are facing. It also focused on the shared sustainability roadmap of UKHospitality and the TSA.

“And it’s not all about chemicals reductions,” said Stevens as he went on to speak about the TSA’s new Infinite Textiles scheme. This is a recycling initiative to eliminate the amount of linen that ends up in landfill. The TSA is looking for ways to ensure that textiles can be recovered and recycled into new products using the latest fibre-to-fibre technologies. “The scheme is now as much about extending life of product as well as dealing with end-of-life,” said Stevens.

He moved on to laud progress made in TSA Knowledge Networks (reports from Shjju and Emma will appear soon) including the Second Chance programme which involves engaging prisoners, diversity and gender challenges. “Let’s keep that conversation going,” he said. (Read more on the initiative here. https:// offenders-10042411/)

TSA, he said, is finding research projects with De Montfort University Leicester (DMU)which are turning up some good results the industry can use to further its reach. “Especially the results of research on domestic washing machines. It is great news for us. Now we can have a sensible conversation with care homes, a market that is 4-5 times bigger than hospitals,” said Stevens.

Care home staff and managers are being asked to take part in a new study into how infection control with regards to laundry is managed in care home environments. The survey, carried out by DMU, aims to help care homes, nursing homes and sheltered housing spaces across the UK identify knowledge gaps, recognise best practice and support them to set the standard for care home laundry practices in the UK.

The study is the biggest of its kind into current knowledge, processes, attitudes and behaviours for dealing with laundry from residents and living spaces, as well as their own work clothing. (Read more on the initiative here https://www. 10031368/)

Elena Lai, secretary general at ETSA, the European textile services association, joined with Andreas Schumacher, CEO of DTV, the National Association for the textile service industry in Germany, to ask: ‘Do you miss us? The European Perspective on Laundry’. Lai has a strong focus on public affairs and network development and excellent lobbying, networking and negotiation skills across business development and management. She possesses a high level of expertise in media, communication and digital areas applied to a wide range of sectors, including EU funding and projects for established and new companies both large and small. Elena is lobbying hard with the EU to promote a circular economy and holds up the textile and textile care industry as a flagship example in circularity. As for whether EU misses the UK, we have so many things in common she said, adding: “We miss your strong. lobbying in the EU.” (Read more here https://www.

Schumacher has been CEO of DTV for nine years, represents 800 members and has more than 20 years’ experience within the industry in Berlin and Brussels, He is highly active lobbying and political networking. He is also on the Board of Small Business Standards Europe in Brussels and Board of Examiners for a textile care course in Frankfurt. He made delegates sit up and take notice with news of two initiatives that DTV has developed.

DTV has set up a training programme that takes students for two months’ intensive training. Companies put forward people for the course, and is part funded by companies, sponsors and DTV’s input. The cost is a mere €2,000. The result he says, is those people are in high demand for their skills with many tending to be hired upwards up by their own companies. It also leads to lower staff turnover with workers and business alike benefiting from the investment.

The other initiative is DTV’s e-training app, E-WASHBOARD. It can be easily downloaded on to a mobile from the relevant App store and covers a range of disciplines and is available in a selection of languages including English. Courses range from reception of goods, ironing to health and many essential areas and is being added to al the time according to Schumacher. Check it out here or download from the App store. E-WASHBOARD was co-funded by the EU’s ERASMUS + programme.

The keynote speaker was popular BBC presenter Louise Minchin a well-known and respected broadcaster and journalist who presented BBC Breakfast on BBC One for 20 years. Minchin has been known to leave the famous red sofa to indulge her passion for endurance sport. At the conference she spoke about kindness and said she is very well aware that the programme goes out at a time when children around so she made sure she delivers bad news in a non-sensational way and in the kindest manner. She also spoke about her friendship with her late and much missed co-presenter Bill Turnbull and the very tall Dan Walker. She left the BBC last year, has appeared on numerous TV shows, and has brought out an inspirational memoir, ‘Dare To Tri’. She is working with UK sleep specialist Woolroom, to launch its Menopause and Clean Sleep campaign, admitting the menopause affected her professionalism detrimentally and was instrumental in her decision to leave the BBC.

Other speakers included:

Fox Energy’s Paul Dilley laid out in straight uncompromising terms the current situation with fuel in an unscheduled slot, with a forecast for the future. Basically, he said, it will be tough.

‘Mapping our Sustainability Journey’ – Christoph Geppert heads the Grain team helping the TSA. He said: “Circularity is more than tracking, reusing and recycling,” he says. “It means looking at the entire value chain, from growing the cotton and transport to optimising end of life solutions. We have to educate laundries, their suppliers and their customers to understand the complexity of textiles, to de-commoditise them. A single kilo of cotton textile can take thousands of litres of water to make. Meanwhile thousands of tonnes of cotton go to waste every year. That’s unsustainable.” Working together with the TSA and its members, it will take Grain around six months to complete the initial assessment of the laundry industry, to structure the tailormade approach for the sustainability strategy and to prepare a detailed implementation plan. The implementation plan is laid out over the next years, defining short term, medium term and long-term goals. (read more here https:// laundry-industry-10275545)

‘It’s Becoming a ‘Hot’ Topic – Fuel of the Future’ – Daniel Wells, Spirax Sarco, expanded on how we may get our fuel in the future and said not to give up on steam as there are sustainable methods. Watch this space, he said.

‘Moving Forward Together: Update on Hospitality Round Table’ – panel session with representatives from the group including Nigel Graham, Bourne Leisure and Michael Simpson-Jones (Travelodge).