Natasha Smith, buying manager at Richard Haworth, the Manchester-based textiles supplier, provides launderers with a blueprint on how to get the best from their buys.

“Specifications for textiles may differ between a budget hotel and a five-star establishment or between a top restaurant and a cafe, but the steps to take when buying remain the same,” she explained.

“Step one is to determine that the textile is suitable for modern laundry processing. A double row corded percale sheet may look superb when new, but when put through a high speed laundry ironer, the appearance may not be so attractive.

“Step two is to consider how consistent the appearance of the textile will be throughout its life. Colour may be desirable, but shade variances in cotton is to be expected, whereas some man-made fibres offer excellent colour retention.

“The questions to ask is: does the textile supplier have an accredited quality assurance system, such as ISO 9002 in place?” Step three, Ms Smith explains, is to establish whether the textile will meet the expectations of the end-user on a consistent basis.

Step four is to ask if your textile supplier keeps adequate stock that will ensure continuity of supply, given the long lead times in the industry.

“Finally, to get the best, ask the following questions: Does the textile provide value for money? Is your specification over-engineered? Do you have effective stock control to protect your investment?”