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Processed linen being examined by Dana Marianna Bolboaca at Regenex

Could a new attitude to thrift help laundries through Coronavirus?

By Paul Hamilton, Technical Director, Regenex

The shut-down of the hospitality industry, which usually creates 15 million pieces of washing every week in this country is causing an unprecedented crisis for the commercial laundry sector in the UK.

A lack of material – from towels and sheets to tablecloths and staff uniforms – arriving from hotels, restaurants and other venues is a huge problem. This has been starkly outlined in a series of open letters to the Government from the Textile Services Association (TSA). Chief Executive, David Stevens, argues that laundries are in effect part of the hospitality industry and should be eligible for the Hospitality Grant (Small Business Grant Fund) and the Business Rate Relief scheme.

He says: “We shut when the hotels shut, we open when they open – within a couple of days of hotels closing, we had to close – there was no work,” and adds that 90% of hotels rent linen from TSA members – representing an enormous capital investment for which laundries are currently receiving no return.

Positive steps towards thriftiness
So what can laundries do to help themselves survive? Saving money and resources wherever possible is an obvious strategy, and the long days of lockdown may offer more time than usual to explore a long-term shift to thriftier behaviour.

Every little helps, and one potentially significant saving can be made by thinking very carefully about throwing ANY linen away – especially at a time when international textile recycling processes and markets are also severely disrupted.

Being careful and thrifty will mean that when hospitality does finally start to recover, laundries will be ready and waiting to supply plentiful, high-quality linen without spending money they do not have on top-up stock in the meantime.

Even if managers do want to order new items – another effect of Coronavirus could be a shortage of linen supply, meaning companies may have no choice but to make the most of what they already have.

This is a sensible and certainly more environmentally-sustainable strategy at any time, but Covid-19 has ramped up the urgency to rethink old habits and procedures.

Lifting marks and discolouration
Grey or stained items, that would once have gone in the bin, can now be successfully processed by us at Regenex in 75.3% of instances – to become brighter, whiter and perfectly serviceable for many washes to come. Many laundries already know this – read our case studies with Bates of London, Shortridge and others – and are saving thousands of pounds on needless top-up stock.

The driver for using Regenex is usually environmental – all companies want to decrease their carbon footprint and taking better care of linen is one good way to achieve this.

But now the financial consideration – the money to be recouped by loving linen longer – has never been more important.

Put simply, if laundries do not survive, things will be far worse for hospitality. What if, when hotels and other venues eventually try to re-open, they cannot get hold of clean linen?

The very real possibility that the laundry sector could be so depleted that it cannot service resurging demand would be ‘catastrophic’ for hospitality, says Mr Stevens.

Paul Hamilton , Technical Director (l) and David Midgley, Managing Director (r) of Regenex

Contact Regenex to discuss how we can work together. We offer a free 400kg trial to new customers.

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