In a reflective mood

19 November 2020

I think it fair to say that as we now come to the end of 2020, the entire nation can call it their own Annus Horribilis just as Her Majesty the Queen did in 1992. On a happier note, 2020 is also the year that Laundry and Cleaning News celebrates its 135th anniversary. Over those years we have had 31 Prime Ministers and seven monarchs.

The textile care industry has, since about the time LCN was founded, consisted of two main parts. Laundering and ‘dry’ or spirit cleaning. Laundering has been around for millennia and drycleaning is the new kid on the block.

The reliance on fossil fuels is coming to an end, and many more environmentally friendly plant-based solvents have been created in recent years, while wetcleaning has now also come on leaps and bounds. Back in the 1990s wetcleaning was seen as just another fad because perchloroethylene was king and times were different. I remember one wetcleaning demonstration back in the day where to the acute embarrassment of the organisation demonstrating it, the items had shrunk considerably. In recent years environmental considerations made companies with bigger pockets focus properly on the process that it has developed successfully.

This brings us to my prognosis of what is to come. Times prior to 2020 had been growing increasingly hard in much of retail textile care which is facing an everreducing number of clients and an ever more expensive physical presence on the high street. Sadly, some firms have closed, some were just surviving with minimum staff – and then came lockdown not one, but two of them.

It makes no difference how good business plans are, nobody could have foreseen a time when the Government would decree that people are to stay at home and businesses have to close. I do not have the skills, knowledge or qualifications to determine if the decision was a good or bad thing in the fight against Covid-19. What I do know, is that the high street will look very different and many shops will not be reopening.

The phrase “where there’s muck, there’s brass” is very pertinent to our industry, particularly as we remove the former to make the latter. I will leave you with something to think about.

Those that are determined to survive will eventually thrive. Things will become normalised again, people will still require their items washed or cleaned, even if they no longer wear formal clothing and they work from home. People are inherently lazy and most detest washing and ironing and will always seek somewhere that can do it for them, so there is your entry.

Compliments of the season to you all.

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