TSA CEO deplores lack of engagement with Government as he warns that 24,000 jobs are at risk as lack of financial support kills hospitality laundry companies.
The UK laundry industry that services the hospitality sector are suffering incredible hardship during the lockdown. While hospitality operators are getting extra support, because of the damage the COVID-19 crisis is inflicting, the laundries that supply them, and that hotels and restaurants rely on, are getting nothing. They’ve lost 100% of their business and, unless something is done, they won’t survive. Which is going to mean another major headache for hotels and restaurants when and if they do manage to reopen.
“It’s a ludicrous situation,” says David Stevens, the CEO of the Textile Services Association (TSA), the trade body representing the UK laundry industry. “We’ve pushed and pushed for government and councils to recognise laundries as part of the hospitality industry, because they are integral to its survival. When the hospitality industry closes down, the hospitality laundry industry closes down. They are part and parcel of the same organism.
“What makes it even more ludicrous is that, in Scotland, laundries are recognised as part of the hospitality sector. But that’s not the case in England and Wales, apparently. At least, not when they need government support.
“Rishi Sunak confirmed that event hire companies are part of the hospitality sector. If that’s the case, why aren’t laundries?”
Matthew Simon is a director at Empire Laundry in London. He says, “We have repeatedly appealed to and been turned down by our local council. The majority of our income stopped overnight when hospitality was shut down. Why can’t government accept laundries like us as ‘hospitality classified’, when clearly we are exactly that?”
Currently councils can determine who should be acknowledged as part of the hospitality sector, so as to receive the support. A few councils have accepted the TSA’s argument, and given grants to local laundries, but most have not. “The government needs to clarify and, if necessary, change the guidelines so there’s no doubt,” says Stevens. “So many other industries have been given support, yet here’s one that is dying and we’re getting nowhere. The government, and most councils, are totally ignoring us.
“Nor are we the only industry suffering – other suppliers to the hospitality sector are in the same boat, such as equipment manufacturers and cleaning companies. Everyone wants to see the hospitality industry bounce back, but it won’t without the essential support of its service suppliers.”
90% of hotels rent their linen from TSA members. The Association warns that, if no support is forthcoming, then many of its members will not be able to reopen. And if they don’t reopen, many hotels will simply not be able to function. On top of which, the jobs of the 24,000 workers employed by the hospitality laundry industry will be at risk.
“The message is simple, hospitality laundries are part of the hospitality industry. We need help.”