The Textile Services Association (TSA) 2024 National Congress, 1 February at the Titanic Hotel in Liverpool, got under way with the The Lord Mayor of Liverpool Councillor Mary Rasmussen, opening proceedings. Charlie Betteridge, TSA chair, welcomed what amounts to a veritable ‘Who’s Who?’ of the top echelons of the laundry industry in the UK. “We have the format right seeing so many here. “Everybody is here,” he said. “Al the key decision makers.
“I don’t think anyone would argue it has not been easy for the past few years. Life before was too easy. It was very good to us. The economy was being pumped up. We Put up prices 1-2%. Profitability was up. We used more electricity, more hot water.
Pictured: left to right, Emma Andersson, TSA; David Stevens, TSA; The Lord Mayor of Liverpool Councillor Mary Rasmussen, and; Charles Betteridge, TSA
“Then it all changed: We have suffered the effects of Brexit, Covid, the Ukraine, war. For the first time we faced uncertainty. Everything was going wrong and we had to think on our feet. Last year was much better. Things were getting better.”
As we head further into 2024, Betteridge believes that inflation is our biggest enemy, saying that core inflation goes up very quickly and comes down very slowly. “With inflation currently at 3.8% don’t think we will get down to 2% this year. Costs have gone up. Wage inflation still with us. In the hospitality sector housekeeping cannot get staff…we are in for another challenge,” said Betteridge.
However, he said, changes have happened in the TSA, too, and these are positive changes. “It is five years ago today that David Stephens took over as CEO. So much has happened since then. We now offer a lot more support than we did then. It seems that every two weeks there is some new initiative be it concerning health and safety, sustainability or mental health in the workplace.
Betteridge believes we have become more resilient in this ‘new normal’, more able to react. “Half the world’s population will be involved in elections this year and that includes the UK and the USA. How this will affect our business we do not know. We don’t know what will happen in Ukraine or Gaza and elsewhere in the Middle East.
“Where are we now? The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has just downgraded outlook for the UK. However, Germany actually is in recession. We are not. There are still a lot of good things here.
“Some people say last year wasn’t so bad, this year can be better. Positivity is the key and the TSA can support you with that,” concluded Betteridge.
• More from the conference will follow. Still to come:
• TSA’s work with Government on Net Zero. It’s impressive.
• Electrification: Is this the way forward?
• Let’s talk laundry: Keep it clean. Panel discussion with Edward Syed, Dash Linen; Helen Wood, Johnson Hotel Linen, and; Mark Franklin, Elis UK.
• The thoughts of behavioural economist Roger Martin-Fagg. He has consulted for a wide range of the country's biggest companies, and is renowned for his ability to explain complex economic concepts in a way that helps businesses to understand how they affect them.
• Dr Katie Laird is a Reader in Microbiology in the School of Pharmacy and head of the Infectious Disease Research Group at De Montfort University. She is a familiar face to many at the TSA after providing several presentations over recent years on her research on the prevention of transmission of healthcare acquired infections particularly the use of novel antimicrobials and reducing the attachment of micro-organisms to textiles in the healthcare arena. For the congress Laird provides an update on the processing methodology around the specific items required for residential care and nursing homes. TSA’s sponsoprship of a PhD project is exploring how industrial laundries may eb able to provide effective solutions to thse problems.
• The main keynote speaker, Lord Daniel Finkelstein OBE. With a career that has spanned decades and includes journalism, broadcasting, writing and politics, Lord Finklestein will bring his deep insights and unique perspectives he has learned while working for organisations and institutions like The Times, the House of Lords and Chelsea FC to name but a few.