FT report: Hotels and laundries suffering with linen supply amid labour shortages and rising costs6 September 2021
The Financial Times, Sunday, 5 September, reported on the struggles that hospitality laundries and major hotels are having keeping on top of linen supplies amid labour shortages, rising laundry production costs and a surge in demand for domestic tourism. This news is no surprise to laundry/linen rental operators as textile service Association (TSA) CEO was warning about the situation in August.
David Stevens, of the TSA (pictured) told LCNi on 4 August, that the sector was lacking 4,000 of its 25,000 staff. The industry turned over £1.3bn in annual revenues pre-Covid but the trade body said launderers were facing “unprecedented cost pressures” with driver wages increasing by about 25 per cent and the cost of bedding up by 55 per cent. “There are massive inflationary pressures bearing down on our industry,” said David Stevens, CEO of the Textile Services Association (TSA), which represents commercial laundries in the UK. “Commercial laundries are already on their knees, having had virtually no Government help through lockdowns, despite seeing volumes drop by up to 80%. Now they’re being hit by price increases they can’t absorb – they simply don’t have the resources.”
The cost increases faced by laundries cover just about every area of operation and amount to double digit inflation. Labour shortages have led to wages going up by between 10% and 25%. Chemical costs are up 15%. Many laundries also supply textiles services such as linen hire to the hospitality industry. Here the prices are skyrocketing, with sheeting and bedding up by 55% and container freight costs by 300%.
In response to the acute labour shortage the TSA is lobbying the Government to allow greater access to overseas workers and has requested further classifications of workers to be added to the shortage occupations list. Despite support from the CBI and UKHospitality, Stevens is not hopeful.
“Don’t hold your breath,” he said. “The Government’s Brexit agenda means that, at least in the short term, it’s highly unlikely that we will get access to the European labour market.”
As if labour shortages weren’t enough, the ‘pingdemic’ decimated the laundry workforce, putting even more pressure on the sector.
UKHospitality is aware of the situation, saying that 94% of hospitality businesses are already experiencing difficulties with the supply chain, through shortages, delays and inflation. For the hotels, restaurants and health clubs that rely on commercial laundries, price increases seem inevitable. The TSA has published an information bulletin to inform end users of the likely impact. It’s available to download for free from tsa-uk.org/laundry-cost-index.
According to the report in the FT by journalist Alice Hancock, Intercontinental Hotel Group, owner of Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza hotels, is only one of the major hospitality companies reporting difficulties with outsourced linen and towel supplies. “The laundry supply chain cuts across staffing challenges, distribution and logistics,” Kenneth Macpherson, chief executive of IHG Europe, Middle East and Africa, told the FT. To mitigate the impact, the group has limited daily bed linen changes at some hotels for guests staying multiple night he said.
• To read the FT story in full please visit here