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The Caterer

Start with a clean sheet

11 April 2014
Start with a clean sheet

Electronic tags could put an end to a startling £40m loss in ‘misplaced' linen, says Murray Simpson, chief executive, Textile Services Association

Hotels, like any business reliant upon outside suppliers, want as much control as possible, and that is why they become nervous about the issues surrounding the consistent supply of quality linen.

If you run out of orange juice or beer, you can always offer a different fruit juice or wine, but if you run out of linen, you can't sell your bedrooms. Hotels, and the broader hospitality sector, need to be reassured about linen supply, so it makes sense to gain control through the use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tagging.

So what's the big deal? Well, right now 15%- 20% of a hotel's linen stock goes missing due to mismanagement, light-fingered guests and the element of organised crime that hovers around the dark edges of the hospitality sector.

We estimate that this costs everyone involved - hotels, restaurants and specialist commercial laundries - £40m a year. Linen is such a central commodity to the hospitality sector that it makes commercial sense to use the best systems to manage stock better, cut losses and drive better value for everyone involved. That is why RFID is now
seen as a vital weapon against linen crime and general mismanagement of stock - and not just in hospitality.

From January this year, RFID has been fitted to 300,000 pieces of linen to combat a £400,000 loss at the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board's laundry service in Cwmbran, Torfaen. And the Accor and Whitbread hotel groups are also considering fitting RFID for similar reasons.

RFID is not a solution on its own to the perceived lack of control within the supply of linen - it is a business tool. So for it to be properly effective and fulfil its potential, hotels and commercial laundries need to work together. There are benefits for everyone in the supply chain to enjoy - but they are only going to be reaped if there is a spirit of collaboration.

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