TRADE ASSOCIATION PROFILE: AUSTRALIA1 May 2019
Fledgling Australian trade association Laundry Association Australia (LAA), in the two years since its inauguration, has already developed a strong pair of wings and a keen sense of just exactly where it is headed, writes Kathy Bowry
Laundry Association Australia (LAA) was formed from the amalgamation of diverse existing state-based textile care associations and, with its mission statement ‘Supporting the industry’, represents companies in textile rental and/or commercial laundering and re-distribution of textile products as well as industry suppliers, including laundry equipment manufacturers, distributors, consumable and chemical suppliers.
Its remit covers health, public and private hospitals; hospitality; food manufacturing; pharmaceutical manufacturing; corrective services; and general industries and/or other sectors requiring commercial laundering of textile products and the related supply chain.
The organisation is definitely not inward-looking, prepared to extend its search for knowledge and good practice across the globe. Anthony Kingsley, director of LAA, told delegates to ETSA’s Global Platform event at ExpoDetergo 2018. “We are a not-for-profit registered company with a board of directors and we are increasing our presence with other associations at board level. Membership is increasing every quarter.
“Our aim is to continuously improve the commercial laundry supply-chain through our affiliations with international industry associations, innovation, research and development, review and development of Australian Standards, and best practice.
“The association is now establishing strong links with international associations such as the TRSA and ETSA along with the UK’s TSA and the Hohenstein Institute, to foster greater cooperation, working in partnership to better support the industry. Through our networks we are also able to connect with companies in the Asia Pacific region, sharing laundry best practice.”
Kingsley told the gathering: “We set and maintain high professional standards for our members and the industry by taking an interest in matters that affect the laundry sector including legislative, economic and social matters with the view to improving, promoting and protecting the interests of members. We engage and support industry stakeholders to ensure we meet the needs of the members, industry customers and the community.”
He went on to explain that areas of particular concern in Australia, where the majority of the population lives along the coastline (a greater part of Australia is desert and virtually uninhabitable), are utilities, water and the accompanying ever-present threat of drought. Electricity and gas are becoming increasingly more expensive (see charts). “Some 1,350 solar panels were put on one laundry roof in Australia last year,” he comments and adds that: “Water and sewage disposal are getting expensive.”
As a result, Australia is a world leader in desalination technologies with six coastal desalination plants in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and on the Gold Coast, but adds: “These are expensive to maintain and run. We also now have to cope with large plants that in some cases can process over 1,000 tonnes of laundry per week. Meanwhile, the smaller hospital laundries are disappearing.”
Like other parts of the globe, Australia has seen huge amount of consolidation in past five years along with huge re-investment in modern equipment. “Labour, utilities and inefficiency are expensive but to borrow money is relatively cheap.”
Overall, the Australian laundry industry has become dominated by a scant handful of major players plus some independents, namely South Pacific Laundry, Alsco, Princes Group, Spotless, Sunfresh Linen and Gouge Linen & Garment Services.
Australia has formal qualifications in laundry that are recognised by the Federal government. A Certificate 3 Launderer is the equivalent to being a Certificate 3 Plumber. There is now a purpose-built laundry and drycleaning training school built by one of Australia’s leading laundry training providers. “We have just had our first National Conference in association with the Dry-cleaning Institute of Australia with 200 attending and we have also been holding meetings all over Australia,” says Kingsley.
Image of Sydney Opera House courtesy of Tourism Australia