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Linen management is a vital resource for any hotel, guests demands are growing for crisp clean bedlinen, and expectations for fluffy white towels and robes in the bathrooms is a must.
Keeping a check on linen stock is a high priority. If the linen store runs short, hotels would grind to a halt. The option of outsourcing the linen supply to a laundry operation is one to be considered – these specialists really know their stuff when it comes to the washing and supply of bed and bath linen.
Commercial laundries tailor the washing systems to dose the correct amount of detergent and chemicals to give that whiter than white colour and the soft feel to the linens that guests require – by using these systems the life of the linen is extended too. Most laundries can offer a range of services – including bespoke linen to the high-end hotel market. Using one of these operators removes the headache of ensuring that a ready supply of clean linen is always available, working closely with your chosen laundry is a must for the hotel linen manager. Here we look at businesses offering this service.
Sarah Lancashire from Total Laundry, a boutique style, commercial laundry based in Chichester, gives her views. “It is simple really, you can’t run a hotel without clean linens and hiring is a great way of acquiring linen without tying up capital. This works well for medium to large hospitality providers and is well catered for by large commercial laundries and linen suppliers. But what about the small hotels and B&B’s that have irregular and unpredictable occupancy rates who aren’t serviced by the big laundries and linen suppliers?”
Lancashire says “as launderers we service these businesses. Some owners are inexperienced in the hospitality industry and fall for the kudos of a named brand when it comes to buying linen and towels, thinking this will give them the edge over their competitors. What they don’t realise is the unsuitability of these domestic linens in a commercial setting. To combat this, we offer a hire service to the smaller accommodation providers. A hire service that’s different to the industry standard. One that we think is fairer, easy to administer and does not require the customer to keep copious records. “Under a fixed term contract, we supply an agreed amount of linen to effectively service their occupancy levels. They use the linen and whatever is sent in to be cleaned is then returned, as if it were their own stock.
The customer pays a fixed weekly hire charge in addition to a fluctuating ‘launder only’ charge for the linen sent in to be cleaned. This way we follow their occupancy rates and they do not pay for the cleaning of linen that hasn’t been serviced.” Total Laundry has experience in hospitality and know the type of linen required by their customers. Lancashire continues “We know what works, what looks good and what will wash well and keep its shape and appearance. We supply linen that is robust, fit for purpose and is of excellent quality that makes everyone happy, especially the guests.”
Linen Connect’s Vikas Shah MBE comments: “One of the most critical products you need to operate is your linen. Bed, bath, kitchen and table linens may seem deceptively simple, but Linen Connect have invested thousands of hours, and significant capital in developing a range of textile products that have fast become the benchmark for the market because we’ve been able to solve some of the key linen challenges in the market. “Our global sourcing team have spent years working closely with suppliers from spinners to weavers, yarn growers to mills and even chemicals and process engineers to create products which meet and exceed the demanding temperature, pressure and handling requirements of high performance commercial environments.”
Shah continues, “For many buyers, the dilemma has always been whether to go with quality or price. Our product development team has been working extremely closely with our international supply network and our own in-house laboratory to develop supply chains which deliver consistent products, time and time again, that last longer and give you better yields. Linen Connect have logistics networks covering UK, Ireland and Northern Europe. Having millions of pounds of products in stock at any given time. “We are proud of the fact that we’ve been supply experts since 1968, not only do we take great care to know our business, but to know yours too.”
Steve Clarke, chief commercial officer for CLEAN tells us: “This year we will see more brands setting strong standards across all of their properties, so linen providers will need to ensure they can consistently meet and maintain those expectations with both the quality and quantity of the linen they supply. “To ensure we provide a consistent seamless service and products to all our customers, we operate a complex quality control system and offer our three-tiered linen range across our seven strategically placed regional laundries.
We offer bespoke packages allowing customers to take a ‘pick and mix’ approach to our products and services. This enables us to provide the same quality linen to hotels within large groups and chains no matter where they are located around the country.
“Our ethically sourced collection includes the ‘Lucia’ – a budget-friendly selection of 130 thread count bed linen, towels and bath mats; ‘Isabella’ – bed linen available in a range of designs and thread counts as well as bath mats and towels; and ‘Oria’ – CLEAN’s premium selection of bed linen used in luxury hotels with up to 350 thread count linen, which Tina de Andrade, group housekeeping manager of Edwardian Hotels London stated was ‘unheard of in the industry’.
“As the use of technology increases in the sector, we will see more hotels working in partnership with their laundry suppliers and investing in cutting-edge technologies within their properties. Technologies, such as Radio-frequency identification (RFID), will save the time and resources of housekeeping teams – removing any human errors or guess work. “In 2018, our partnership with PPHE Hotel Group saw one of sector’s largest use of RFID technology between a hotel brand and a laundry service provider in the UK.
RFID is transforming the efficiency of the laundry sector as it allows both CLEAN and PPHE Hotel Group’s housekeeping team to identify, locate and track every individual piece of their quarter of a millionitems stock – no matter which stage they are in of the delivery, collection and laundering process.”
Stephen Broadhurst, managing director of Star Linen UK says “being part of an international company gives us an edge when it comes to purchasing and sourcing new products, we are able to keep up to date with the latest trends. Service is paramount, we pride ourselves on ensuring that the customers selecting and buying experiences run smoothly.” One of the most recent product introductions is their Redbridge range. Sales manager Helen Jones says, “The idea for this range first came from working with one of our large national accounts that wanted bed linen that gave the luxury of high thread count cotton but wanted to make it easy to process on a commercial scale. “We worked with our international network of suppliers to create a new T240 plain white polycotton bedlinen which gives the perfect combination of a beautifully soft crisp high thread count bed linen which still has the easy-care qualities that polycotton provides.” The customer feedback on this new range has been excellent. Chris Touhy states “from the very start the communication and service provided from my key account manager in the office and subsequent visits from Stephen Broadhurst, have been excellent. The linens that were sourced for us surpassed my expectations in terms of both quality and processing.”
Richard Haworth offers a comprehensive range of attractive and hard-wearing collections for bed and bath linen. The move to higher thread count cotton products continues with many hotels seeking out 100 per cent cotton. Cotton percale bed linen, which historically caused laundries problems, is now much easier for laundries to process. “Our 200 thread count Blenheim range has been designed with this in mind, saving launderers time and money processing, yet providing hotels with luxury soft bed linen. For laundries who want to offer a high quality 200 thread count bed linen range but with the addition of manmade fibres which provides extra strength and durability, the cotton rich Kensington range is proving to be extremely popular. “We are seeing a similar trend towards higher quality with towels and bathrobes. Whereas previously, the majority of establishments provided, at best, 500gsm towels, today we find that many are now opting for 600gsm. The 600gsm Madison towel range from Richard Haworth is a 100 per cent ring spun cotton produced with fine yarns and features an attractive honeycomb weave header. The luxurious deep pile ensures the towel stays soft and absorbent wash after wash.
Supplying to the trade for over 120 years. With a dedicated 64,000 sq ft warehouse and impressive stock holding, Tonrose is able to be just as responsive as the industry it serves. But there’s more to Tonrose than selling great linen. Never content to stand still, the company is putting innovation at the forefront of its business strategy. Following the success of its unique One WashTM technology, which addresses the perennial problem of cracked-ice creasing.
Director, Phil Hodgson says “Our recently developed ‘SeeMore’ to help the laundries process linen more quickly, is a corner identification system that can also greatly assist housekeepers in changing the bedding more efficiently.” “The market has been really responsive to our simple but incredibly effective solution as we’re seeing growing interest as we start the New Year. “Our turnkey linen service includes: Exceptional customer service; premium quality and ethical products; personalised consultancy; next day availability; market place insights; and non-stop innovation and NPD,” says Hodgson.
He continues: “Quality and consistent supply sits at the heart of our company, and we work closely with our mills to ensure they adhere to strict product and ethical specifications. “We’re continuing to look at innovative ways to help laundries, hotels and healthcare businesses save time and money, as well as meet their environmental commitments. “Competition is fierce out there, and businesses are fighting hard to win over their customers. Many are realising that they can transform their look on a budget by adding a touch of elegance with crisp white linens, or by injecting some colour into the room for a more relaxed experience.”
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