Mr Simpson was adamant the net cost to the TSA of organising last year’s World Textile Rental Conference was not the reason for the redundancies. He said: “Our worst fears were not realised.”

The association has been deliberately operating at a loss since 1999, when the decision was taken to reduce subscription charges. However, said Mr Simpson, the trading deficits over the last two years were greater than planned because of continued consolidation in the industry. This led the TSA to make three decisions:

First, it will focus on authoritatively representing the industry to government, which precludes moving into commercial areas.

Second, the membership base will be broadened, in the first instance by welcoming the approach made by Ian Hargreaves of the Society of Hospital Linen Services and Laundry Managers at November’s TSA Scottish conference.

Third, it will reduce costs by outsourcing certain financial tasks to the firm of Levi Gee and reorganise the staffing.

The full-time staff “template” that has been agreed comprises a chief executive (Murray Simpson), technical director (Mike Palin), personal assistant (Angela Thompson), customer advisor and internal financial administrator (Beverley Long) and committee executive with responsibilities for marketing and IT (vacant).