In a quick straw poll, Textile Services Association chief executive Murray Simpson said the TSA had always supported the idea of the minimum wage, but the hike to £4.10 was “very political.” The early announcement did at least give the industry time to prepare.

While he did not think the rise would affect employment, he did believe it was on the edge of doing so.

At the Johnson Service Group, chief executive Richard Zerny said that as far as textile rental, the larger of the Group’s two core businesses, was concerned, the increase would have virtually no effect as pay was already above the minimum level. However, the rise would have some effect on the retail sector. The business covered some 530 shops and currently some make only a small contribution to profit and some made a loss but had been kept trading. Numbers in both cases were very small, he stressed.

Although the Group’s internal research had not been finalised, this very small number of marginal shops would be affected and some might close.

Both Richard Zerny and Murray Simpson pointed out that the rise would affect differentials, a matter of greater concern than the rise itself, perhaps.

Colin Rowe joint md of Cornish Linen Services, speaking about the laundry industry in general said he was concerned about the strategy and about the lack of proper consultation with industry bodies.