Bates of London, which can trace its history back to 1886, and specialises in linen hire and contract laundry for hotels, health clubs and restaurants across the UK, has been sold to existing management following an intensive period of marketing the business at the end of last year.

Administrators Neil Bennett of Leonard Curtis and Ian Yerrill of YM Business Recovery Limited were called in by directors at Bates of London following a prolonged struggle with the effects of coronavirus on the hospitality industry, together with rising energy costs. Leonard Curtis Business Solutions Group completed the sale of the business and assets of Bates of London Limited, thereby saving all 95 jobs.

Matthew Pantlin, managing director of the company, told LCN: “During Covid, I personally pumped in considerable investment to keep the business going. In fact, I was Bates’s biggest creditor. Most of our staff have been with us 17-20 years or more but it came to the point where we had to ask, after 14 months of virtually no work, ‘How much more can we do to support a debt we don’t deserve?’. The choice we were faced with, was whether to be put into administration – or get advice voluntarily? Covid debts kept increasing so I sought the advice of Leonard Curtis, a large professional company, that considered our employees and creditors in how to keep the business going.”

Pantlin said: “We wanted to buy back from the Administrators. The sale was advertised and we invested in buying back the company and won the bid against some competition. So, we retain the rights to our trading name of Bates of London. The equipment was owned separately on finance.

“During all this, we did not stop trading. In fact, many customers weren’t even aware of what was happening. We never failed a customer. During the crisis I delivered work myself, as did our head of operations Mourad and Nicola Pantlin (my wife) who was hands-on in production as well as fielding calls and obviously supporting me!”

“Some laundries in a similar situation have tried to keep their circumstances under wraps but I have a lot of honour in the business and I feel it is best to be open and honest about these developments.”

Pantlin is highly critical of the lack of support from Government for the hospitality laundries. “Hotels and restaurants got help from the Government, and quite rightly. However, because of the Government’s refusal to recognise laundries – and others in the hospitality supply chain – as hospitality businesses many companies have suffered, including food and drink suppliers.

However, he believes that one thing Covid has shown emphatically is that restaurants and bars may have shut down but hotels that stayed open now know, if they didn’t realise it before, what a vital link in the supply chain the laundry industry is. “After all, going forward, their core business is selling beds, not steaks,” he said

At its height Bates of London was processing over 50 million pieces of laundry a year with two processing plants and a dedicated team. ”London is starting to get busier and the confidence we want to see is coming back,” said Pantlin.

The Administrators worked closely with the parties concerned to deliver the best possible outcome for stakeholders. For the Administrators, Neil Bennett commented: “This was a great business with a long history which deserved to survive unprecedented recent pressures and we were delighted to find a buyer to take it on and retain the workforce in full.”