No going large for the nation’s food workers

by Scott Douglas

Monday, October 27th, 2008

Evening News and The Sun

View full article on:

Edinburgh Evening News: http://edinburghnews.scotsman.com/topstories/Waitresses-are-Poles-apart-as.4626790.jp

Scotland’s bar and restaurant workers are shrinking, according to the country’s leading provider of uniforms for the industry.

NKD Clothing has revealed that hospitality staff are no longer going large – with increasing numbers of female employees demanding tiny Size 0 uniforms.

The company is also reporting that the slim-down surge has meant that around 50% of the trousers it supplies to women are UK Size 8 and under, while more men than ever are needing smaller chest measurements.

Gill Eastgate, Managing Director at the Edinburgh company that has nine staff and a turnover of £1.3 million, said: “There has been a massive slim-down of staff in the hospitality sector over the past few years.

“The country as a whole is getting considerably bigger but we are seeing the complete opposite in the uniforms we supply – particularly for front of house and bar staff who tend to be the thinnest.

“The shrinking shape of the sector means we’ve had to dramatically alter the range of sizes we offer to companies opening hotels, bars and restaurants. Now the smallest sizes, such as Size 4 and 6, are being offered as standard and in most order runs we are supplying many more Size 6s than we are Size 12s.”

The company is the premier supplier of corporate wear to the hospitality industry and its clients include the De Vere and Malmaison hotel groups.

The average woman in the UK is a Size 16 and the average chest size of a man is 40”.

But research by NKD Clothing has shown that its most popular size for trousers is a size 10, with around 30% of orders being for this size. But increasingly the company is receiving requests from female workers needing to be kitted out in a Size 0 (the UK Size 4)

The company has also seen a demand for men’s chest size 34”.

By comparison, uniforms for management and outfits for housekeeping staff in the hospitality sector are larger, with 40% of female managers ordering a size 10 jacket, with only 2% opting for a size 6.

NKD Clothing offers a unique design service, with bespoke corporate wear rather than choices from catalogues so it can spot trends instantly, with in-house designers ready to adapt the uniform make-up straight away.

Gill, who undertook an MBO of the company in 2005 and has since doubled its turnover, attributes the thinning of the hospitality sector’s workforce on a number of factors.

She said: “Hospitality workers are forever on their feet and are very active in their day-to-day work.

“There are also a large number of Eastern European people working in the sector. Many of these men and women tend to be tall and thin, different from the traditional British body shape. There has been a marked change in providing not only small uniforms, but ones with longer legs and bodies to cater for this.”

Gill has managed uniform accounts for professional services companies such as banks and believes it is unlikely the thinning down trend will have been replicated across other business sectors.

She added: “The average size of uniforms I supplied when I was working with banking clients was a Size 16. There tends to be far more demand for the larger sizes in that sector, whereas in hospitality only around 7% are a Size 16 +.”

ENDS

Issued on behalf of NKD Clothing by Holyrood Partnership. Contact Suzanne Mackie on (0131) 561 2244 or [email protected]

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