How did you forge a career in the industry, and what was it that first drew you to the premium linen sector?
45 years ago I was faced with the choice of studying architecture at university or going out into the real world. I chose the latter, and from a grounding in wholesaling textiles in a small London warehouse to launching the UK market for Frette back in 1990, I’ve never looked back.
By now, I guess I am best known as the go-to person for making sure your hotel boasts the best that there is in bed linen, toweling and table linen. Along this journey, I met like-minded Joe Molloy. We decided to join forces and create our own company that sells the best bed linen of its kind to top hotels around the world and gives their guests a great night’s sleep. We have now been doing this through Tradelinens for over 25 years.
It turns out that a flair for art and numbers does not just open the door to study architecture. Mixing creativity with business acumen can also put you on the road to a passion for textiles, an expertise in hotel furnishings, an obsession with detail and quality and a chance to mix with some incredibly interesting people within the hospitality industry.
Could you briefly outline the concept and ethos of Tradelinens?
Ethics – As the first UK trade linen members of the Better Cotton Initiative, we work with carefully selected partner manufacturers
who support our ethos and sponsorship of education and training programmes in India and Pakistan. The passion to be an ethical business runs through Tradelinens, all the way from the top.
Luxury – We create the very best products of their kind, inspired by our experience and crafted with exceptional attention to detail.
Quality – Our products are a blend of traditional craftsmanship and the finest ingredients, all created with a personal service from start to finish.
Pedigree – Between Joe and I, we have over 70 years of experience and are passionate about our textile expertise.
Do you feel that perceptions surrounding the importance of linen are changing, or do you feel it remains a neglected element when it comes to curating the hotel experience?
Both. It wholly depends on the owner, GM and housekeepers as to whether it’s recognised.
The bedlinen has to ‘wow’ the guest while more importantly providing the best night’s sleep they’ve ever had. Thankfully, we work with a varied range of clients, from trendy and modern properties such as The Ned and Nobu to some of the most traditionally luxurious five-star properties such as The Connaught and Claridges.
What they all have in common is their attention to exceptional luxury in every detail – this includes the bedrooms, bathrooms and dining room textiles.
Within an increasingly competitive market, how might hotels distinguish themselves through their choice of linen, and how does Tradelinens facilitate this?
Our ability to provide expert advice coupled with bespoke service for each client have been key to the success of Tradelinens. Our ethical trading initiatives and pledges are also key for meeting the expectations of our hotel clients and their guests.
What is the most challenging aspect of your role?
Time! We are passionate about getting it right first time and every time for each of our clients, and invest a great deal of time in working as consultants to make sure the process is seamless from start to finish. We personally manage each order from pre-weaving and yarn selection to careful delivery to specific floors of a hotel.
If there were one myth you would wish to dispel about hotel linen, what would it be?
Egyptian cotton being the best! Forever quoted as synonymous with luxury, the main attraction of Egyptian cotton is that it can be used to make long staple yarn. Using long staple over short staple yarn helps produce cloth that is softer and smoother to the touch, both very desirable characteristics of high quality bedlinen.
Thankfully the production of cotton to make long staple yarn is not the sole preserve of Egypt’s Nile Delta, and not all cotton grown in the region produces long staple yarn. Given that the worldwide supply of so-called ‘Egyptian cotton’ far outstrips the physical production, it’s easy to see why confusion and misinformation reign supreme.
What sets Tradelinens apart?
Our decades of experience in the five-star luxury market paired with our passion and attention to detail and commitment to building an ethical brand.
Could you talk about some of Tradelinens’ recent hospitality projects?
We’re very excited to be a part of two of the most talked-about openings of this year so far: The Ned London and Nobu Ibiza.