Having invested in schemes to recruit new members from the small laundry and drycleaning sector, the Textile Services Association (TSA) finished the financial year with a trading deficit and 45 new members.

Speaking at the TSA’s recent annual general meeting, outgoing president, Nigel Armstrong, thought it money well spent.

“The TSA must continue transforming itself into a modern trade association,” he said.

The DTI’s report on trade associations has been timely, spelling out clearly that they can no longer be old-boy’s clubs but must represent the entire industries they claim to serve.

“The association needs to consider its scope, structure and representation,” said Mr Armstrong.

All in

The need to be an inclusive rather than an exclusive organisation was repeated many times. Chief executive, Murray Simpson said the association’s role had changed from trade protection to “representation of the members interests” particularly to government. He said industry was being strangled by government regulation.

“The Climate Change Levy will increase our costs by 15% and is a distortion of the market. We have had a sympathetic hearing with the Minister and have put our case for exemption strongly,” he said. “But lobbying is not about making demands, it is about developing long-term relationships.” The solvents emission directive is also a piece of legislation that has caused TSA members some concern. Mr Simpson appears to have negotiated some influence and control over its introduction with the TSA writing the rules and running the registration scheme.

He also reported that the association’s review of the textile rental market found that some of the association’s major customers may be considering direct purchase but added it was the job of a trade association to research the market and up to members how they used the information. Vice-president Martyn Lewis assumed this year’s presidency and John Walters from Brooks Service Group became vice president.

The incoming president said he would take a long, hard look at the TSA’s activities “which should not only be well supported but self financing. I am just a small and humble drycleaner,” he said, “which goes to show that if I can become president of the association then there is room for everybody.” Reviewing the services provided to members, or customers, as he preferred to call them, would be a priority.

The guest speaker was the Hon Lindsay Hoyle MP. His contribution was punctuated with so many “At the end of the days” and “I’ll take that on boards” that one prayed for dusk to fall, the loading to finish and the MP to sail away.