Business Briefing

Dirty laundry: the latest casualty of Britain’s chronic staff shortages

Some hotel managers report that staff are washing linen at home because frazzled laundry providers cannot guarantee delivery

What is a hotel without clean sheets? Prepare to find out, said James Tapsfield on MailOnline. The latest casualty of Britain’s chronic staff shortages and logistics chaos is the laundry trade, which is struggling “to keep pace with demand”, even as the staycation boom eases.

InterContinental Hotels Group, owner of Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza hotels, is among several chains “trimming services”. Indeed, some managers report that staff are washing linen at home because frazzled laundry providers cannot guarantee delivery.

The situation is “bloody horrific”, said Daniel Browne, owner of Blossom & Browne’s Sycamore, which provides laundry for many London hotels. There’s no respite in sight, according to employers’ groups. CBI boss Tony Danker has warned that the UK’s “acute skills shortage” will extend into more industries and could last until 2023.

There’s already evidence of a bumper effect, said Giles Coren in The Times. The CEO of noodle chain Wagamama complains of mass staff defections to logistics and delivery firms, where underpaid chefs can command £40k plus in HGV driving jobs.

“Long viewed as an unglamorous industry”, trucking is having a moment, said Joanna Partridge in The Guardian. But haulage veterans warn higher salaries aren’t “sustainable with average industry margins of around 2%” – and risk spurring wider inflation.

“Disentangling the effects of Brexit and the pandemic is tricky,” said The Economist. About 40% of Britain’s estimated 100,000 shortfall of drivers is down to “the suspension of driving tests at the height of the pandemic”. And “HGV drivers are in short supply across the continent”.

Even so, the Government’s refusal to give EU drivers a temporary immigration amnesty seems “perverse”, said Nils Pratley in The Guardian. Ministers seem to have sacrificed common sense for ideological “purity”.

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