Rental firm in ‘Netflix of clothing’ enterprise

A formalwear hire firm whose business “fell off a cliff” when weddings were postponed during lockdown is accelerating its move into the emerging market for renting everyday clothing.

07 September 2020

Based in North Lanarkshire’s Eurocentral, ACS has the largest laundry facility in Scotland. Since the company’s inception in 1997, that facility has predominantly been used to clean the formalwear rented out by the company, with a quarter of a million shirts passing through each year.

Disruption caused by coronavirus lockdown measures forced ACS to lay off 70 of its previous workforce of 120. In response, the company has stepped up moves into everyday clothing rental by signing contracts with the likes of Hirestreet, MyWardrobeHQ, EndlessWardrobe and Rotaro.

A new agreement with Moss Bros is set to double volumes, creating what chief financial officer Andrew Rough described as a “very promising” order book for 2021.

“The fashion industry has to change, and we are changing with it,” he said. “Retailers have to change as well.

“More and more companies in the US are mirroring the Netflix model for clothing. That to us is where the industry is moving.”

According to some estimates, the greenhouse gases emitted in the production, manufacture and transportation of the millions of garments purchased every year contribute more to climate change than the annual emissions of air and sea travel combined. Mr Rough notes that the industry is on course to account for a quarter of the world’s carbon budget by 2050.

“Consumers are recognising the gluttony of fast fashion,” he said. “People realise they have got to make more sustainable choices.”

Through the new Moss Bros contract and existing partnerships with Slater Menswear, Next and hundreds of independent retailers under the Cameron Ross and Ultimate Formal Hire brands, ACS now provides garment cleaning services to 80 per cent of the UK menswear rental sector.

Article originally published in The Herald

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