The European Textile Services Association (ETSA) is celebrating 25 years of representing the European textile services industry. ETSA’s biennial conference in Dublin on 14-15 May 2019 brings together approximately 100 leaders from the industry and will focus on future challenges and opportunities.

On 8 November 1994, eight visionary companies – Bardusch, BET, CWS, Elis, Euroblan, Lindström, Mewa and Berendsen – established a new European association to represent the business leaders in the textile services industry.

Today, 25 years later, ETSA has 36 market-leading textile rental firms, suppliers of detergents, fabrics, garments and machinery, national associations and research institutes.

The textile services industry is now a major contributor to the European economy, with an annual turnover of over €12 billion, employing 135 000 people in the EU, and with a potential growth in Europe of up to €46 billion (Deloitte study).

With 25 years of representing the European textile services industry, ETSA is helping customers’ transition from a linear (use and throw-away) economy to a sustainable circular economy (design, use, maintain, repair and reuse and recycle). Textile services are intrinsically circular. By renting or leasing textiles, customers can leave old purchase and “throw-away” mentalities behind.

“Consultancy company Deloitte calculated that our European market potential is €46 billion, whereas the turnover of the textile services industry for Europe amounted to approximately €12 billion”, says ETSA Chairman Thomas Krautschneider, CEO of Salesianer Miettex, Austria. “There are huge opportunities for further growth. Whether for healthcare and elderly care homes, workwear and protective clothing, ultra clean textiles (cleanroom), restaurant and hotel linen, serviced entrance mats, hand-drying towel rolls in washrooms, reusable surgical gowns and drapes.”

He continues: “More and more companies are concentrating on their companies’ core business, leave textile selection, care and maintenance to professionals.”

According to ETSA secretary general Robert Long (pictured), the textile services industry has become significantly more sustainable in the last 25 years. Resource consumption in laundries has been significantly reduced in terms of electricity, water, oil/gas and detergents. “Using less resources has been high on the agenda for environmental as well as efficiency reasons for the full 25 years of ETSA’s existence – and it remains one of our priorities today.”

Other changes include a general trend towards outsourcing over the past 25 years. Companies are concentrating on their core business, to ensure increased efficiency. Hygiene and safety requirements and regulations are increasingly stringent. Finally, companies attach ever more importance to their image: clean and neatly ironed uniforms, for example.

Long says: “Twenty five years later, the eight founding members can be proud of what has been achieved in this co-operation forum. We look forward to another 25 years of fruitful co-operation and development or our industry in meeting changing customer needs.”