< Back to news 22 April, 2015

A material world – the importance of workwear, and how to source it

Corporate workwear has been a hot topic for those in the hospitality sector for some time now. Indeed, over the past 20 years the corporate workwear market has seen a growth of 90%.Beacon's Senior Buyer, Elizabeth Snowball explains how to get the most from your work wear solution.

With 4% of all UK clothing purchases falling under the workwear banner, it’s vital to consider what this means for you and your team. Well in short, workwear has never been more important; it’s commonplace amongst the industry, meaning your competitors have probably already adopted it and, if you haven’t, you’re most likely on the back foot.

With this in mind, it becomes clear that workwear is an important consideration for any hotel owner, and the term encompasses so many different items of clothing and equipment, that it can be overwhelming to ensure that you have every employee in the best possible workwear solution. Uniforms need to be considered for everyone working for your hotel, including both front of house and back of house staff, all employees should portray the image of your brand, as well as being smart, clean and comfortable. This can include chef whites and even Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), such as high visibility vests for the grounds team – a whole array of colours, materials and requirements to understand.

Having worked in the hospitality industry for over 15 years, working with thousands of hotels in that time, we recognise that the most important consideration for workwear is to understand how you want your business to be portrayed to your guests. A first class image combined with fantastic customer service can give guests a brilliant experience, which will encourage repeat visits, however, a poorly maintained, ill-fitting or “off-brand” uniform can have a negative impact on the guest’s experience – particularly as it is often the first impression of your hotel. We work with a number of different suppliers to provide workwear including market leaders Alexandra and Simon Jersey, to ensure we can provide the best solution for a business.


Image credit: Simon Jersey

We also look to ensure that Beacon customers can order through their existing suppliers where possible, for example, hoteliers are able to order uniforms through their Office Depot account manager, which is then fulfilled by Alexandra, a leading international provider of corporate clothing. In this way, hoteliers save significant administration time on opening and maintaining additional supplier accounts.

A key aspect of choosing your workwear design and style is your hotel brand, and the decision of how to reflect your brand’s identity across all clothing worn by staff is an essential one. It is important that staff project the right image whilst also feeling confident in the quality, comfort and performance of the garments they wear. 

Embroidery is one option often utilised by hoteliers, this service will be offered by all reputable workwear and uniform suppliers, and can give items such as chef whites, jackets and polo shirts a professional look and feel. Embroidered logos and text are common options for hoteliers and should be considered as a truly bespoke solution for any brand. Colours are also a great way of incorporating the brand within workwear – shirts, blouses and polo shirts can serve as an accent colour to a black, blue or grey suit for front of house and waiting staff. Suppliers are experts at designing the best solution for your business, so make sure to call on their expertise if you’re not sure of the best option.

Once the design, colours and garments are chosen, the next important consideration is the material, which is very dependent on the type of clothing, and the employee’s position within the business. The majority of workwear uses polycotton – a mix of polyester and cotton – to create a durable fabric suitable for a number of applications. Using different levels of polyester and cotton within the fabric will change the look and feel, with some garments working best as 100% cotton or 100% polyester – this decision is one that your supplier can advise on. Teflon covered fabrics should also be considered, especially for chef-wear, as it gives a tougher finish for a more durable fabric. The material mix and the resulting weight of the garment is important when choosing uniforms – a better quality fabric will also often be a heavier fabric, so make sure to consider the comfort of your employees. The industry standard weight is 195gsm, which gives hoteliers a benchmark to measure fabric weight against – below this could indicate an inferior quality item.

It is also important to consider outside influences that will affect the comfort of staff, and therefore the material chosen for their workwear, for example, those working in the kitchen during the summer will probably be more comfortable in a polyester polo shirt, which will help draw moisture away from the body in the high temperatures. The number of uniforms provided is another key issue – we would always recommend that staff are able to ‘wash one, wear one and have one in the wardrobe’ – as it is of upmost importance that uniforms are always clean and tidy.

There are other benefits to adopting a staff uniform – not least when considering the impact it’s having on consumers in the USA; 73.5% of which stated that uniforms are more effective than TV advertising in reinforcing a brand. Meaning adopting the right uniform is also an excellent marketing tool. Add to this that it can encourage team spirit, saves costs for staff and helps to unite your team with your brand, and it’s hard to argue the case against adopting a smart, professional workwear solution for your business.

Overall, the right image needs to be projected by all staff within a hotel – there is a wide range of hospitality and catering garments available and all staff need to be considered, from front of house, to the kitchen and even special events such as weddings. We are seeing many hotels take extra care when it comes to portraying their brand to customers, with hoteliers investing in a first class image – so it is important to not get left behind.

To discuss how Beacon suppliers can help support you in finding the right workwear for your business, contact our team today on 01904 695588 or Contact Us online.