A review of market testing in the NHS had now been concluded, Murray Simpson, TSA chief executive, told the meeting, and stated it appeared that a philosophy of best value for patients had been replaced by one which concentrated on promoting NHS in-house activities.

New thinking, he said, “stems from a political, even a philosophical, belief that everything the NHS does is best done by the NHS.” He added that “warning bells” should be sounding for businesses which had NHS contracts. Safeguarding members’ health service contracts was a core trade protection issue for the TSA, and it was likely that substantial lobbying would be needed on this front.

Mr Simpson noted that, last year, the association began delivering what it had promised on trade protection and promotion and on the provision of business to business services to members.

In the area of trade protection, constructive opposition was provided when legislation or regulation imposed unwelcome but workable measures. Firmly opposed were measures that directly harmed members’ interests. Positive use was made of measures which could benefit members’ businesses.

A detailed survey had been conducted on the National Minimum Wage. Members considered that £3.60 per hour was at the “higher end” of what members considered was acceptable. There was some relief when it became clear that this was a minimum earnings level rather than simply a minimum hourly rate.

With the establishment of the Food Standards Agency, the TSA would be aiming to put forward a scientifically based case for workwear regulation in food retailing and handling as well as in areas already deemed to need a high level of protection. Such regulation would be a real benefit for the workwear market.

The association would continue to take a proactive role on standards affecting the industry—such as those relating to healthcare textiles, laundering efficiency, and cabinet towel processing. Some victories had already been achieved in the medical area concerning the utilisation of reusable items rather than disposable ones.

On the trade promotion front, there was an intention to expand the hotel marketplace. A thousand hotel guests had been surveyed by telephone, and it was clear that the quality and quantity of linen influenced them—they were prepared to pay a premium for the right standard of linen provision. Marketing material, making use of facts from the survey report, will be available for members to use.

The type of sound market research done for the hotel marketplace will be a “model” for future trade promotion activities, Mr Simpson said.


He reported that Responseline, the advice service provided by National Britannia, was complementing the TSA’s industrial relations service. Expansion in affinity schemes would generate further revenue streams for the TSA.

Industry NVQs had been reviewed and a marketing campaign will be run to draw the industry’s attention to their value. TSA training courses were likely to expand.

The 2001 World Textile Rental Congress, to be held in London, will be a “showcase for the textile rental industry in the UK,” Mr Simpson said, adding that, in many ways, UK rental businesses are market leaders.

Roger Oliver, presenting his final treasurer’s report, reminded the meeting that a year earlier he had reported a pre-tax surplus of £139 500 which reflected savings in employment costs associated with a radical restructuring of the TSA. More “balance” had been striven for and, for the 1998 year, a surplus of £52 385 was recorded.

Subscription income remained buoyant as did that from listed investments which did much to subsidise subscription payment levels. Other income was down over £40 000 on the previous year, but the results for 1997 had included revenue from a management course and an overseas trip, two activities not staged in 1998.

Increased employment costs had arisen from an expansion of the TSA staff team.

Subscription rates had been cut for 1999—on a graduated basis by turnover. Planned for in the current year was a subscription income reduction of £100 000, producing a deficit of about £50 000. The decision to reduce the subscription rates was “not taken lightly”, Mr Oliver said, adding: “It goes against the grain to budget for losses.” A surplus of £150 000 after tax over the last few years had been achieved and the TSA has reserves of about £1.5 million, Mr Oliver noted. “Against that background, a subscriptions reduction could be justified as could an operating deficit,” he said.

The creating of a deficit did not mean the proactive work of the assocation, including trade protection and promotion would be reduced, he stated.

Colin Rowe, concluding his term of office as president, said the TSA now had the structure to “face challenges head on”. Value for money would be delivered to members, and emphasis placed on service provision by new and traditional means. Mr Rowe has become the association’s treasurer, succeeding Roger Oliver.

Roger Salmon is the association’s new president. Mr Salmon said the TSA was considering replacing its national executive council with a board of directors and chairman. To have a strong voice, representative of the textile care industry, the TSA needed to increase membership, particularly in the unit drycleaning shop sector. A campaign would be run in which unit drycleaners—members and non-members—will be contacted and ways devised to satisfy their expectations.

* The TSA annual general meeting, held at Launderers’ Hall, London, attracted an attendance of over 100, including 12 past presidents of the association.