NEW ORLEANS — Heads of the Textile Rental Services Association of America (TRSA) and similar associations representing Europe, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands announced on Saturday that they have had preliminary talks about forming a “global alliance.”
The goal of such an alliance will be to work together on issues of common interest, such as the environment, says George Ferencz, vice president of TRSA. He announced the development during an informal and sparsely attended Textile Services Global Forum at Clean ’09.
Ferencz offered a snapshot of the textile services industry, described the U.S. and European markets, identified common bonds, listed developing markets and addressed the global initiative.
TRSA estimates the global market to be roughly $32 billion, led by the U.S. market at $14.5 billion. Europe isn’t far behind at $12 billion. Asia/Australia ($3.5 billion), South America ($1 billion) and other nations ($1 billion) make up the remainder.
Sixty percent of the U.S. market is in industrial services, 25% is in linen supply and 15% is in healthcare. The recession has hit the industrial market the hardest, while healthcare is the fastest growing segment.
Healthcare for the Dutch market is also strong, says Peter Wennekes, Federation Textile Rental and Services Netherlands (FTN), with outsourcing at 90-95%. Hospitality has seen a 20% decline.
There is growth in the European market among various types of workwear, not only general types but protective clothing as well, according to Robert Long, secretary general of the European Textile Services Association (ETSA). Long was wearing a rental suit, including a dress shirt, from one of Europe’s industrial laundries.
First struck in the U.K. was workwear, says Murray Simpson, chief executive of the Textile Services Association (U.K.). It took an “immediate hit” when Toyota and Honda factories closed for months. There has also been a 10% decrease in hospitality, with hotels putting out fewer linens and changing them less frequently.
While the U.S. industrial market is struggling, some companies are finding new revenue streams by providing services such as document shredding or restroom sanitation, Roger Cocivera, president/CEO of TRSA, says.
“They’re getting extra dollars for where the truck stops,” he says. “If you have a truck and can train people, you have it made.”
Ferencz says textile service companies serve only 11% of U.S. hotels, with the highest penetration coming in economy and budget hotels. That means there is a huge opportunity for textile rental in the hospitality sector, but could it serve it effectively?
“If we had to do all the laundry that’s out there, we couldn’t do it,” Ferencz says. “We don’t have enough facilities to do it all.”
Every country has sustainability programs now, Ferencz says, so getting the environmental message out to customers has to be a priority for a textile service company in any nation. “Ethical sourcing of textiles” is also a topic the group should investigate, Long says.
Officials from TRSA and the other associations are planning to meet again in Europe near the end of the year, and will invite Japan and Australia to join the effort. “We’ll start small with a very broad principle,” Ferencz says.