A virtual coffee break with … Edward Syed from Dash Linen

Normally the team at Laundry & Cleaning Today would be out and about meeting with industry businesses of all sizes, across the country to find out all about what they do.

Instead we’re picking up the phone and having a chat to find out about the impact of COVID-19 on their business and what plans they’re making for the future.

Tell us a bit about you…

Dash Linen was originally started by my father Ash, who is originally from Pakistan and moved over to England by himself when he was 20. He created Dash Linen just over 30 years ago after owning a successful Italian restaurant in Richmond and believing there was a gap in the laundry market. Ash unfortunately had pancreatic cancer 10 years ago, this was when I joined the business to help out where I could, deferring my university application. I enjoyed it so much that I decided not to go to university, instead staying on to help the family business.

Tell us about your business (pre COVID-19) …

Dash Linen has been growing steadily since its inception. Gradually we expanded from one unit on the industrial estate to five with a purchase of a large new warehouse in November last year. Over the last few years, we have been supplying more of London’s top restaurants as well as having our record number of enquiries last year – and to top it off we won the LADA for Commercial Laundry of the Year 2019. The whole team was massively excited for the future as we felt we were going down the right path while having a number of exciting projects. We believed we were ready for the next step up.

How has COVID-19 affected your business?

In February 2020 we saw an increase in sales compared to the year before. But March 2020 was less than 40 per cent of sales compared to the previous year, and the months that followed to now have been zero sales. We have had a few requests to supply restaurants that are doing takeaways, but we made the decision not to supply them as the income would be outweighed by the costs of running the plant etc. I have also explained to our customers that we would have to take employees off furlough while only providing them with a few hours work per week. We have tried to cut outgoings as much as possible, with payment holidays provided by lenders, but no luck with the local council who still expect us to pay rates with no financial support.

How will COVID-19 change your future business?

At the moment I still feel our future is very uncertain. As Churchill said this is the end of the beginning. We now know what lockdown is like for the industry, and we also know what normal looks like. But this period in the middle is an unknown. We have had some clients already liquidating their companies while owing us money. We are hoping that we can get though the rest of the year then hopefully our industry will be back to some sort of normality. We were a well run business before the crisis but it just means that for the time being we have to be conservative with our spending and put projects and reinvestments on hold. We have had time to get jobs done that aren’t as straightforward to do when the factory is working as normal, such as painting and reflooring which creates a nicer environment to work in.

As a result of the social distancing measures we have also created plastic curtain barriers between lanes on our ironers as we had some extra curtains spare from partitions we had around the units. We are envisaging a reduction in work of at least 60 per cent so we are planning to make the factory operational for two to three days a week, as well as making the drivers rounds as efficient as possible.

Normally the team at Laundry & Cleaning Today would be out and about meeting with industry businesses of all sizes, across the country to find out all about what they do.

Instead we’re picking up the phone and having a chat to find out about the impact of COVID-19 on their business and what plans they’re making for the future.

Tell us a bit about you…

Dash Linen was originally started by my father Ash, who is originally from Pakistan and moved over to England by himself when he was 20. He created Dash Linen just over 30 years ago after owning a successful Italian restaurant in Richmond and believing there was a gap in the laundry market. Ash unfortunately had pancreatic cancer 10 years ago, this was when I joined the business to help out where I could, deferring my university application. I enjoyed it so much that I decided not to go to university, instead staying on to help the family business.

Tell us about your business (pre COVID-19) …

Dash Linen has been growing steadily since its inception. Gradually we expanded from one unit on the industrial estate to five with a purchase of a large new warehouse in November last year. Over the last few years, we have been supplying more of London’s top restaurants as well as having our record number of enquiries last year – and to top it off we won the LADA for Commercial Laundry of the Year 2019. The whole team was massively excited for the future as we felt we were going down the right path while having a number of exciting projects. We believed we were ready for the next step up.

How has COVID-19 affected your business?

In February 2020 we saw an increase in sales compared to the year before. But March 2020 was less than 40 per cent of sales compared to the previous year, and the months that followed to now have been zero sales. We have had a few requests to supply restaurants that are doing takeaways, but we made the decision not to supply them as the income would be outweighed by the costs of running the plant etc. I have also explained to our customers that we would have to take employees off furlough while only providing them with a few hours work per week. We have tried to cut outgoings as much as possible, with payment holidays provided by lenders, but no luck with the local council who still expect us to pay rates with no financial support.

How will COVID-19 change your future business?

At the moment I still feel our future is very uncertain. As Churchill said this is the end of the beginning. We now know what lockdown is like for the industry, and we also know what normal looks like. But this period in the middle is an unknown. We have had some clients already liquidating their companies while owing us money. We are hoping that we can get though the rest of the year then hopefully our industry will be back to some sort of normality. We were a well run business before the crisis but it just means that for the time being we have to be conservative with our spending and put projects and reinvestments on hold. We have had time to get jobs done that aren’t as straightforward to do when the factory is working as normal, such as painting and reflooring which creates a nicer environment to work in.

As a result of the social distancing measures we have also created plastic curtain barriers between lanes on our ironers as we had some extra curtains spare from partitions we had around the units. We are envisaging a reduction in work of at least 60 per cent so we are planning to make the factory operational for two to three days a week, as well as making the drivers rounds as efficient as possible.

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