Maximising opportunities13 March 2019
UK Fashion & Textile Association (UKFT) took over responsibility for the drycleaning membership and associated services from Textile Services Association (TSA) late last year. LCN invited the association to lay out its offering for its new members
According to UKFT’s board, the association is the most inclusive British network for fashion and textiles and by extending its reach into aftercare, it believes it can strengthen the relationship for all parties and maximise opportunities that exist.
UKFT is now managing the drycleaning arbitration service www.drycleaningadvice.org, working closely with TSA on any outstanding cases and managing new cases in line with the Fair Compensation Guidelines.
The arbitration service means UKFT acts as a third party between UKFT members and the general public. In most cases, we find an amicable solution which is acceptable to both sides.
UKFT also maintains the Fair Compensation Guidelines, which ensures that all our members pay customers compensation in the same way when they are found to be at fault.
UKFT has also taken over the Code of Practice, which has been developed in consultation with the Office of Fair Trading for domestic laundry and dry- or wetcleaning services. The Code exists to provide security to the consumer that the service they are going to be of the highest quality. UKFT will be working with its members to raise the profile of the industry to the general public.
UKFT project manager Martin Jenkins is responsible for the day-to-day running of the membership and the main point of contact for any issues. Members can contact him by emailing [email protected]
Closer links to retailers and brands
UKFT is committed to both maintaining and growing the drycleaning membership and associated services it offers to firms.
Early indications suggest the drycleaning arbitration service in particular may benefit from a closer dialogue between retailers, manufacturers and drycleaners to ensure that the best options are considered for all concerned.
This is an area UKFT, with its close links to all parts of the fashion supply chain, is looking to develop further in 2019.
UKFT is the UK representative for GINETEX care labelling symbols and also sits on a wide variety of BSI/ISO committees which impact on the whole drycleaning sector. This expertise and experience will be useful relating to technical bulletins and information on standards.
UKFT is a voice between government and industry. Following consultations, there is potential for greater lobbying with government on behalf of the dry cleaning industry relating to issues including the use of solvents, plastics and the environment.
As an example, UKFT has recently become involved in the Sustainability in Textile Care Committee, and will be actively engaged in dialogue on the Minimisation of Plastics in Textiles.
Skills and training
UKFT is Sector Skills Body for the Fashion and Textile industry, managing apprenticeship frameworks and ensuring that vocational skills are aligned to the needs of the industry.
The organisation worked on the development of the Textile Care Operative apprenticeship standard (ready for delivery last year) to make sure it had the core skills, knowledge and behaviours required across both laundry and dry/wet cleaning, with specialist routes for each side of the industry.
Previously UKFT skills and training manager John West worked with the industry in the nations to ensure that the new national occupational standards for laundry wet- and drycleaning were updated, which the SVQ in Textile Care Services and the Modern Apprenticeship are now currently based on. This work means that there is a synergy and consistency of skills and training provision across the UK.
With the drycleaning membership now under UKFT’s membership, the association will be actively engaging with the dry- and wetcleaning sector for the rollout of the Textile Care Operative apprenticeship standard with both new and existing training providers in England. UKFT will be promoting the provision of this training with its provider over the next few months.
The first cohort of laundry apprentices under the Textile Care Operatives is due to commence in Feb at a training provider in the north west of England and it is anticipated this will be followed by wet- and drycleaning specialists later this year.
UKFT strives to be a valuable resource to members and looks forward to introducing its expertise and experience to our new dry cleaning members.
UKFT has started initial consultations with industry on additional activity and will be conducting a wider review of membership in the year ahead. This may include, but is not limited to, developing in-store collateral, a review of the Code of Practice and Fair Compensation Guide, technical bulletins and information on standards.
Martin Jenkins, project manager, says: “It is imperative that the dry cleaning sector has representation across the whole of the textile supply chain. UKFT’s commitment to the drycleaning industry is a positive step forward and one that will lead to changes and improvements in the overall support for this important industry”.
Adam Mansell, chief executive of UKFT, said: “We believe there is great synergy between our existing members and the newer dry cleaning firms. UKFT has a great deal to offer the dry cleaning industry, through strengthening relationships with brands and manufacturers, as well as greater lobbying potential, skills provision and business support. We are looking forward to sharing our expertise and experience with our new dry cleaning members as our activity grows.”
Helen Fairchild, drycleaning manager for Timpson Group, which incorporates Johnsons The Cleaners and Jeeves, welcomes the assurances and says it is already profiting from the practical assistance being proffered by UKFT, saying: “The Timpson Group is delighted to start a new relationship with the UKFT, we believe there will be significant benefits for all retail drycleaners. We have already been impressed at how seamlessly they have adopted the drycleaning arbitration service which Timpson uses as important support for our customer support team.
“The UKFT already represents most of the high street fashion chains, the companies that sell the garments we clean, and we hope the UKFT will act as a liaison so we can have a positive conversation with those chains so we can clean their garments better so customers benefit.
“In return, the UKFT gains insight and expertise in the aftercare of garments which will be particularly useful for their existing input on care labelling and their BSI/ISO and GINETEX responsibilities.
“We intend to be active and enthusiastic partners within the UKFT, and for the benefit of the whole industry we would encourage all retail drycleaners to join and support their work.”