The TSA’s new chairman Charles Betteridge, who took on the mantle from Julian Carr in March, highlights the challenges the Association and the industry has to face moving forward.

“When I was asked to take over the role of chairman it was, of course, an honour but also a commitment. Having taken time over my decision, I agreed to take over the role for 18 months on the basis that during this time the TSA would be changing and with it, the role of chairman.

“As part of a five-man strategy group, I had already been involved in putting together a vision for where the board wanted the association to go and we were keen to find a strong CEO, capable of moving the association forward. That in itself was not an easy task and our first attempt was unsuccessful. We were lucky to have Roger Salmon, who was prepared to continue longer than planned, and of course Gillian Farrar, who continues to do a fantastic job. Last year Dr Philip Wright was successfully appointed chief executive to the association.

State of change

“The industry, like many others, is in a state of change. Market consolidation has been prevalent in the last two years and further acquisitions will undoubtedly follow leaving a very different landscape to that of 10-15 years ago. Then the market was still dominated by a number of long-established family-run companies.

“The TSA itself dates back to 1920 and one of the features of the UK laundry industry is this sense of belonging and continuity. The challenges of modern-day business and the emergence of large nationwide groups have however changed the way all businesses, large and small, approach the market and there is a need for the TSA to adapt to these new conditions to promote the industry in different ways than before.”

“Making people more aware of the importance of our industry is one of the key objectives of the TSA as we defend, protect and promote the interests of all our members – be it to government, institutions or potential customers. The marketplace remains highly competitive for the individual members but TSA offers a vehicle to work together to jointly market the advantages that the textile service companies as a whole can offer.

“To do so, we need to be proactive rather than just reactive and two major projects are currently underway, both of which will be presented at the Conference in November. All of this represents a slight change to the past as TSA becomes more dynamic. At the same time however, we recognise that the networking opportunities must remain a major part of TSA life and the creation of new ‘Knowledge Networks’ will provide further opportunities to work together to promote our industry. Without doubt this is an interesting time to become chairman but hopefully one where, together we can achieve a lot.”

Apprenticeship moving forward

After the second Expression of Interest rejection, TSA has put pressure on the Civil Service and MPs to right the system failure.

Members rallied around, many writing to their local MP, following an email containing a letter from TSA CEO Philip Wright, to Robert Halfon, MP for apprenticeships. MP involvement has now ceased for the time being due to the General Election on 8 June.

However, TSA has been holding conversations with the Civil Service and Senior Managers within the Institute of Apprenticeships to review the systems. The Textile Care Services apprenticeship bid now has an assigned relationship manager to guide the industry through the process.

Through all the changes, the department running Apprenticeships for England has been reassigned, twice. Now the Institute of Apprenticeships is running the decision panels and has developed new material and systems but not communicated them to businesses. Our industry was caught in a system failure, twice. Now, we hope to see results. As LCN went to press the first phone call with the relationship manager was due to be held 26 May. TSA will be reaching out to the wider industry through its HR & Training Knowledge Network to ensure the apprenticeship developed meets the industry’s ongoing training requirements.