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With beginnings that date back to the 1960s, Chef Works has been an industry leader in the design, development and management of uniform and culinary apparel programmes across the globe. It gives its clients innovative, high-quality products at competitive prices along with the tools needed to manage any uniform programme, irrespective of the size. Director Adam Josselsohn speaks about the adoption of smart technology in the hospitality industry.
What is the global market size of the uniform industry? How is the uniform sector different from the apparel sector?
If the laundry rental is included, then the overall market cap is now in billions. There is a big difference in the uniform garment sector that is aimed at industry use (B2B) versus the apparel sector (B2C) that is a much bigger segment and a far more competitive space.
What has been your growth story? What percentage of your profit is ploughed back into research and development (R&D)?
Both the company and my personal journey have been beautiful stories. The Chef Works journey date back to very humble beginnings in South Africa. Now the brand is sold in over 70 countries with global manufacturing and sourcing covering pretty much in all continents. At the back end, I always find the R&D and product development as the most exciting part where every new idea can lead to a new creation. Thus, there is a large amount of budget and time spent on R&D.
What are the important things to be considered while manufacturing uniforms for restaurants?
I'll keep it simple to a few key words: trendsetting, functionality, longevity and comfort.
What are the challenges of the modern uniform industry business?
The modern uniform industry is in a great stage at the moment. There is a combination of new technologies in the production processes and fresh new fabrics together with very traditional business processes such as stock overheads and logistics. I believe it's the companies that combine and marry these two dynamics that will see the brightest future going forward.
What is the latest trend in the uniform industry?
We have seen a big move towards stretch fabrics and pastel colours. The industry continues to move towards relaxed cool environments, less formal but still very sophisticated. Our future collections will blend within this urban lifestyle trend.
How will the industry look like a few years from now?
I think we will see a lot of developments in the fabric technology and composition space. The various trends of design will come and go, but I believe, the real shake-up will happen with the technology side of the industry.
What are the latest trends in culinary apparel industry? Are uniforms functional like in other industries?
Yes, the uniforms need to be super-functional. We have taken a lot of inspiration from the sports world and leisure and yoga wear and implemented these into our kitchen uniform designs. Examples are our cool vent technology and stretch fabrics. The kitchen can be a brutal place and one needs a fitting uniform to perform.
Do you look for special finishes like stain or water repellants or fire proof? What is the demand for such type of fabrics?
A large percentage of our garments have soil resistant finishes. Our light-weight fabrics also dry faster after washing and the average weight saves cost when charged per a kilogram.
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