The London Linen Group looks forward to the next 75 years

09/11/2010 - 00:00
In 1935, Fred Oliver started a linen hire business to the hospitality and workwear sectors, from two small shops in Finsbury Park.

His first customer was a small guest house, but with only one other competitor and the attraction of renting linen rather than the capital outlay of buying, business grew so rapidly, that within 18 months London Linen had moved into a new larger building in East Acton. Whilst the requirement for hotel and restaurant linen largely disappeared during wartime, it became popular once again when the war ended and London Linen soon became the market leader in laundering and linen hire. In 1982, the present Managing Director Roger Oliver joined the business and eight years later in 1990, the business moved to a dedicated factory at its current location near Southall. The company now employs over 425 people and such is the demand for chefswear and linen hire, that Oliver decided to develop the company into three specialised divisions with separate management and service teams, to ensure that the specific and individual needs and requirements of each hospitality sector was met. The original sector London Linen Supply (LLS) provides restaurant linen to the fine dining sector where crisp, clean, fresh tableware is an important requirement. Early and current customers include the Mario and Franco Group, The Ivy, L'Ecu de France, Gordon Ramsay, The Wolseley and Jamie's Italian. London Workwear Rental (LWR) focuses on the casual dining market and provides bespoke workwear and uniforms to meet customer requirements who are looking for excellent staff presentation, whilst reinforcing their brand through the workwear. Customers include Prêt A Manger, Carluccio's and Lemonia. And in 2007 The Caterers Linen Supply (CLS) was formed, which provides linen and chefswear to the contract catering market with customers such as Principal, Vacherin and Harbour & Jones. A new laundry specifically for the contract catering industry was opened in February last year and Oliver believes this is now the most environmentally friendly laundry in the UK. Recognising the increasing focus of their customers on environmental issues, The Caterers Linen Supply (CLS) invested over £3.5m in launching the UK's first 'green' and only steamless laundry service. All the machinery is directly heated by gas burners with no boiler required, saving 30% on the loss of heat through piping to the machinery and using 70% less water. "CLS is operating at the cutting edge of technology," says Oliver. "With it we can meet the growing demand from contract caterers to enhance their own green credentials and satisfy their clients' wishes to reduce their carbon emissions. Laundry is a small, but still significant aspect of the carbon footprint of contract caterers and at CLS we have reviewed every aspect of our laundry service to make it as eco-friendly as possible for them." Future plans for improving the company's green credentials further, include working closely with detergent suppliers on environmentally friendly washing solutions to further improve effluent and reduce water usage. The London Linen Group does not just concentrate its services only in the capital, it has a depot in the North to support their northern business and Oliver sees growth opportunities for all three divisions both within the M25 and also outside the M25. "My grandfather started this business 75 years ago, meeting the demanding requirements from restaurateurs of service and quality at a competitive price. We have invested significantly in sustainable and environmentally friendly processing and our three specialist divisions continue to focus on delivering to specific market needs, whilst maintaining the highest standard of hygiene and wash. As long as fine dining, casual dining and contract catering require these high standards, The London Linen Group will be keenly geared to provide them."

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