Based in the heart of the traditional weaving area in Yorkshire, the Hainsworth Group has been supplying textile products for over 200 years.

Some 15 years ago it acquired the long-established laundry supply business of GE&W Wike and has since built that business up. It is now renamed Hainsworth Laundry Supplies, and today the company is recognised as the largest independent supplier of ironer clothing, wax and guide tape in the UK.

Sales director Rachel Hainsworth represents the eighth generation of the family-owned business and she takes a keen interest in the success of the division. Rachel comments: “We also try to put something back into the industry. For example, we sponsor the annual Race Night at the Hospital Society Conference, we also participate in the TSA and Philip Fortin has recently been working with Dr Richard Neale of the Laundry Technology Centre updating the reference work ironer handbook.” The busy sales office consists of Sue Woods, Mandy Smith and Julie Hilliard as the customer contact team with Ian Mathison bringing his vast experience of more than 30 years of needlefelt manufacturing and sales. While most contact is still by phone, an increasing amount of business is now done online. Its website is proving an easy way for customers to make enquiries or place orders 24 hours a day.

The sales team is headed up by Philip Fortin, sales manager, who combines this role with customer visits, using his technical experience to advise on how to get the best performance from each type of ironer. Phil says that the company had to realise that the future lay in specialisation.

“No one company can be an expert in all aspects of laundry supply,” he says, “and our strength has always been in ironer supplies, so that’s where we concentrate our effort.

“You can’t give a recommendation on the most suitable type of ironer clothing to use, for instance, without a full understanding of the type of ironer, the category of work going through it, a knowledge of the steam pressures and the general state of maintenance, all of which will have a major impact on the output of the ironers and therefore the costs of the operation.

“In recent years, large roll ironers have become common place in our laundries, they can be capable of a very high output with trouble free operation. But only if they are correctly maintained and clothed.

“We had long been an admirer of Fanafel, which as Europe’s largest manufacturer of ironer clothing are original equipment manufacturer to all of the major ironer factories. We have now forged close links with Fanafel, which allows us to supply their material from stock while also giving us full access to their technical department, which together with our own, is a vital element in ensuring trouble free supply.

“For us, being able to offer this clothing is a vital step, allowing us to supply our customers with the originally fitted material, so ensuring that the full-rated output of the ironers can be maintained.” Hainsworth Laundry Supplies has applied the same philosophy throughout its product range. For instance, Hainsworth has only ever offered Castrol wax and is now a major distributor for Castrol. Hainsworth is also able to offer a complete range of guide tapes from the finest German tape manufacturer, including an extra strength knitted tape which offers a far longer life without stretching.

The beauty of being a private, family-owned company is that Hainsworth can use all of the resources of its manufacturing complex and is able to focus on giving the best service, while still having total freedom to cherry pick the best products from other manufacturers’ ranges around the world.

The laundry market is very competitive. Hainsworth Laundry Supplies deal with all types of steam laundry, from small independents right up to branches of the major groups. One thing that all laundries have in common is that they are under increasing pressure to keep costs down, which means working all the equipment as hard as possible, not least the ironers. Any improvements that can be achieved will lead to large cost savings, in both labour and energy and can also give a higher quality of output.