Smart turn-out

20 May 2021

As the hospitality industry wakes up from its enforced hibernation, uniform rental businesses have an opportunity to hammer home their message and make hay while the sun shines. LCN caught up with John Shonfeld of hospitality workwear supplier Tibard who explains why now is the time for hotels and restaurants to rethink hospitality workwear procurement

The excitement around reopening is palpable. Not just for the hospitality industry (and hospitality laundry businesses), which have been shackled for more than a year, but for the country as a whole. However, there remain significant barriers to trading once again. Whether it is new barrels for the beer or ensuring all red tape regarding hygiene and Covid-19 security is dealt with it is going to be yet another challenging few months for hospitality and catering.

“We believe at Tibard that one area that will neither be prioritised nor analysed for reopening is uniforms. After all, with closures and/or reduced staffing over several months, there should be plenty of garments ready to go without the traditional wear and tear,” says John Shonfeld.

“We also think that given the challenges to reopen, this approach is sensible. There are enough large initial costs to cope with the sector opens its doors to the public once again, so investing additional cash upfront for a brand-new uniform seems a big risk, considering we remain unsure of what the future holds.”

This is where uniform rental comes into its own, he says. “It is not an innovation forced by conditions over the past12 months; it has been at the heart of Tibard since 1979. It is simple, we manufacture or supply the uniform (depending on garment preference) and lease it on a two-year contract. But this is much more than a simple cost-splitting exercise, as restaurateurs and hoteliers gain access to a wide range of services free of charge.”

These include size changes for nonbespoke or embroidered garments. “After all, staff move on and are replaced by people who could be a dramatically different shape or size. So, our rental service means you do not need to purchase a new wearer set for this starter, just let us know in advance and we shall just send the product down to you. In addition, we also cater for the real-life workings of a hospitality or catering business. Garments get damaged, torn or simply degrade over time by your staff performing their duties. Kitchens are hazardous places after all. So, we can either replace or repair the items free of charge, once again saving on hidden costs down the road,” says Shonfeld.

As well as the financial benefits listed above, there are the practical ones too but Shonfeld believes the strongest benefit of Tibard’s offering is that it is tied into its own national laundry service. “While hotels have long prioritised laundering, the wider hospitality industry and catering remain reluctant to take this side of their uniform as seriously as perhaps they should. Dangerous microbes can arise from numerous sources in the kitchen such as contaminated meat, poor hygiene and incorrect storage. Preventing harmful micro-organisms from being in your restaurant is the first and most important step. However, rogue factors can mean bugs may well be present. Therefore, ensuring it does not spread and contaminate food is vital.”

Shonfeld explains that one of the key forms of transfer for the bacteria is through clothing and as we know many workers take their uniforms home to wash. A study taken in 2016 by domestic appliance company Glotech Repairs found that 44% of UK washing machines had significant traces of the e-coli bacteria. This is due to two reasons. Firstly, people trying to save money and continually washing their clothing within the 30-40C range. This temperature is not enough to de-nature the bacteria’s enzymes and prevent infection. Secondly, the majority of people do not clean their washing machines at the recommended monthly rate through either chemical or thermal disinfection. This means that statistically almost half of hospitality staff have e-coli bacteria in their home washing machine.

“At Tibard, our laundry service meets the recommended guidelines for hospitals and care homes provided by the Health and Safety Executive. Without going into graphic details, the soiling and contamination of workwear and linens in the healthcare sector are even more dangerous and unappetising than the hospitality and catering industries. All of the laundries we use for our rental service conform to the HSE’s prescribed 65C temperature hold for a minimum of 10 minutes during the cycle or 71C temperature hold for a minimum of three minutes. In fact, we strive to have our laundries washing at 75C for a minimum of 10 minutes. That potentially adds quite a bit of money to your staff’s energy bills – assuming they actually do as requested. As well as destroying bacteria such as e-coli, these measures help show hotel guests and restaurant goers the hygiene steps an establishment is taking in the times Covid-19.”

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