TSA Spring Conference entertains and educates

6 May 2022

The Textile Services Association's (TSA) 2022 Spring Conference, got under way at the Marriott Forest of Arden Hotel in Birmingham on 5 May, with sprint legend Linford Christie OBE lining up on the starting grid as a key speaker.

It was the first Spring Conference after two years of pandemic and a welcome opportunity for TSA members to meet face to face. The TSA team’s intention was to entertain and enlighten so delegates could go back to work feeling refreshed and ready for the challenges ahead. Neither did TSA chairman Charlie Betteridge nor CEO David Stevens  pulled any punches that things will be easy going forward.

TSA chairman Charlie Betteridge welcomed delegates, commenting that there are still major stumbling blocks to contend in the wake of the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. More than two years later we have a less severe variant, but one that spreads faster than the original.

“Omicron is very contagious. Recently, no fewer than 4.9 million people couldn’t go to work at one time which brings me on to labour shortages. It is really difficult to get people to work in laundries. It is a regional thing; in some areas, businesses cannot run a second shift as there are not enough people.”

Betteridge said that the textile care industry, especially in the hospitality sector, works on demand and capacity. “It is very difficult right now to work out how much volume to plan for going forward. There was more certainty last year when UK ‘staycations’ were fully booked. That is not the case now. This year, UKHospitality says it just doesn’t know how many bookings it will take. People may be planning to holiday out of the country; some cannot afford holidays at all because of the cost of food, energy and so on. So, we just don’t know what to expect. We need to be able to plan to operate.

“The other big headache right now is the supply chain. Globalisation is great until it is taken away. Things from China just weren’t there in the pandemic. And that situation still continues. Wooden pallets are now three times more expensive than last year. Manufacturers, and operators for that matter, are having a lot of problems just getting parts. Prices are going up. The biggest costs are for energy and labour. The TSA Cost Index is up 20% in Jan-March this year. National Living Wage is up 6.6% and National Insurance has just gone up.

However, there is one silver lining, said Betteridge: “We are beginning to hear from large hotel groups that finally, laundries are being seen in a different light. They are beginning to ask: ‘Have I got a laundry partner that can see me through?’

“TSA needs to offer members value for money. We lost very few members in the pandemic, and now we have taken on more than we had before. taken on more. Events, webinars, knowledge networks and plenty of work going on by Shyju Skariah, Emma Andersson – and now Emily Macdonald – to serve members’ needs.”

CEO David Stevens followed on, echoing Betteridge’s. comments, saying: “What I can tell you, because we keep hearing it from you, is that we are not out of the woods yet. In fact, with two years of Covid and now the energy crisis, we cannot even find the path to get out. The industry is in unprecedented crisis and it ain’t over yet.”

Welcoming existing and new laiundry and supplier members he said: “I would like to particularly welcome our new laundry and supply partner members and also some industry VIPs who have travelled a long way to be with us, namely Daniel Kärrholt from Tvatteriforbundet, the Swedish TSA; Linda McCurdy and Sean Curtis form K-Bro in Canada; and Andrew Robson and Callen O’Brien from SPL in Australia.”

• Check out the full report which will appear on the site soon detailing TSA achievements, including advances in made by the Knowledge Network, Steering Group progresses and project news. LCN will also be reporting on the day’s presentations which cover sustainability; the law and HR; cultural health; laundries down under, and; we will also reveal why Linford Christie loves laundry.”


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