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Wednesday, 1 April


27th March 2020

Welcome to this week’s Grapevine, the place to get your bitesize FM updates in one place, in a handy five-minute read.

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UK Cleaning Industry Revealed To Be 5% Of National Workforce

New research by the British Cleaning Council (BCC) has revealed that there are approximately 1.63m workers in the industry, making up around 5% of the UK workforce. Yet, at the time of reporting, cleaners are still not recognised as keyworkers, despite being on the frontline of fighting the Coronavirus pandemic.

The figures put cleaning on a par with the Transport and Storage Sector and makes it one of the top 10 largest UK industries for employment. 

The BCC includes the figures in its fifth annual research report, which classifies cleaning into four core types: cleaning activities, facilities management, landscape service activities and waste and resource management.

FM Resource Bank

As a media channel, we were inspired by how FM companies were wanting to support each other through the COVID-19 pandemic, to help each other survive this confusing time.

After publishing Richard Felton from Purgo Supply Services open letter to the cleaning industry, calling for collaboration and mutual support, we considered that this support should extend to the whole of FM. With additional support from Vertas Group and Europcar Mobility Group, we felt that through our extensive network, we could help play a role in connecting individuals and facilitate this initially through our LinkedIn group for FM professionals.

Join us over on the group now or click here for more information about the scheme

Profiteering in FM

It was brought to our attention through some posts on LinkedIn that some FM suppliers have faced profiteering accusations.

Our source told us that after seeing inflated prices of cleaning chemicals at, they revoked their business.

They told us that they were “astounded and angry” at the £420 price tag for 5 litres of hand sanitiser solution.

“As suppliers, they are not even communicating with the clients the reasons for such an increase.

“I was only aware when I saw the invoice of the ridiculous price hike and it has led me to remove my custom and return all orders

“Other suppliers are 300% cheaper for sanitiser so it can’t be a supply chain increase”

The product has since been removed from sale, and CMT has issued no response aa yet.

When addressing the nation in his daily briefing on 25 March, Boris Johnson was asked if he will legislate to ban profiteering.

He commented that says he dislikes profiteering very much, that it’s “exploiting people at a critical time of national emergency”. He also reassured us that The Competition and Market Authority is already looking at this. Johnson also confirmed that the government is looking at legislation too, of the kind introduced in wartime.

The ExcluSec Group Supports Its Local Community

In happier news, the ExcluSec Group, the soft services provider headquartered in Bolton, has launched an offer to supports its local business community during these difficult times.

More and more organisations are following the government’s coronavirus advice and encouraging as many of their employees as possible to work from home. Some businesses have already closed their buildings for the foreseeable future and others will be doing so shortly. This poses security concerns with respect to the company’s assets.

To help their local community in Bolton, The ExcluSec Group are offering a free key holding service for any of their commercial neighbours. The keys will be held securely, in accordance with industry standards, until normal working patterns return. There will be a small charge should response officers be called out to respond to a building alarm.

To find out more, please visit

Hosking Associates Run Free Health and Safety Help Hubs

As part of its COVID-19 response, health and safety specialists Hosking Associates, will be running a series of free health and safety help hubs.

The next session is being held on Friday 27 March at 12.30.

The Help Hubs provide businesses with the opportunity to talk with Louise Hosking, chartered safety & health practitioner, to discuss pressing concerns or questions they may have during the crisis.

This is an opportunity for those who are having to work to discuss precautions, wellbeing, and how to look after the health & safety of staff working from home.

The meeting will be accessible via this link:

20th March 2020

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World Happiness Day

Each for each or each for all?

That is the challenge, the clarion call,

Choosing the person you want to be,

And being the change you want to see.

Action for Happiness asks of you,

To be loving, compassionate and true,

A giver of joy and a healer of sorrow,

Creator of a new tomorrow.

Making the happiness of all your wish, your compass and your goal - by Richard Layard Action for Happiness co-founder.

World Happiness Day falls on March 20.

That's How They Roll

Let's hope happiness comes to the hoarders and the panic buyers and hope they will share their stash with those less fortunate.

Last week's Grapevine asked the Cleaning & Hygiene Suppliers Association is they could shed any light on the 'loo roll rush'.

Lorcan Mekitarian, Chair of the CHSA, said: “Our paper supplying members are certainly seeing increased sales, not just of toilet paper but also hand towels and boxed tissues as customers aim to provide adequate hygiene facilities for employees and visitors.  At the same time, our distributor members are seeing a lot of variation, day to day, in what is being bought, as companies try to make sure they are meeting all possible cleaning and hygiene requirements. 

“The situation is fluid and our members are being flexible, reviewing stocks and adjusting production, to make sure their customers have no need for concern.”

The Sidcot Group, which makes toilet paper, was involved in a pre-pack sale back in October 2019.

Joint Administrators Andrew Stone and David Costley-Wood from KPMG did the deal that has saved more than 100 jobs.

The family-owned Group, which had operations in Oldham and Chesterfield, manufactured and converted tissue and hygiene products for UK distributors operating in the away-from-home market.

The business and assets went to trade purchaser Northwood. Andrew Stone said: “Given the ongoing pressures of an increasingly competitive market and the declining availability of the Group’s working capital, it quickly became apparent that a solvent solution could not be found. As such, we’re pleased to have secured a positive future for the business’s employees, safeguarding roles across its operations in a relatively short timeframe.”

A statement from a Northwood spokesperson in recent days said: 'Yipeee!' OK, I made that up.

Manchester Cleaning Show postponed

‘Severe uncertainty’ means it will now take place from 15 to 16 September.

The Manchester Cleaning Show was due to take place on March 25 and 26 this year.

By Grapevine's reckoning there is now not so much as a gap of one week between the London Facilities Show (and all the associated shows), the Manchester Cleaning Show and the NEC's Facilities Event.

Other Event & Exhibition Dates

The coronavirus is causing all sorts of changes to the next few months of the FM & Workplace Calendar, with several other exhibitions already being postponed.

We will continue to announce further postponements as they occur and you can keep up-to-date using our Event Listings - click here.

Hand It To Them

The GMB Union says they have members transporting patients from major hospitals in London - including St Georges NHS, Croydon NHS and Kingston Hospital NHS -  and not being given hand sanitiser.

Those working for the outsourced HATS group have also been told that if they get sick from Coronavirus they will only be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay at £94 a week.

Helen O’Connor, GMB Organiser, said some very bad things about HATS.

However, Lola McEvoy, another GMB Organiser, was quite nice about Medirest as the company became the becomes latest to commit to full pay during self-isolation. The private company joins other NHS outsourcers ISS, Sodexo, Interserve, Serco and Mitie in guaranteeing full pay - well done to them all.

Intu The Unknown

Developers/owners/operators of shopping centres, Intu have seen yet another downturn in their fortunes, showing a  £2 billion loss in their latest financial reports.

It is the writing down of property values because of the state of retail lettings that is causing the problem - despite Intu regularly finding new tenants in venues such as Lakeside in Essex and Manchester’s Trafford Centre.

However, Chief Executive Matthew Roberts, who came to the position in April 2019, has a positive spin for a company rumoured to be £5 billion in debt. He said: "In the year, we made a loss of £2 billion predominantly due to a property value deficit of 23 per cent, which is now 33 per cent down from the peak in December 2017. This results in our debt to assets ratio increased to 65 per cent. Although we were unable to proceed with an equity raise, we have a range of options including alternative capital structures and asset disposals.

"The store is not dying, it is evolving. The right stores in the right locations will always play a vital role for retailers.

"Two statistics illustrate the importance of the store. First, around 90 per cent of all retail spend is influenced by a physical store and second, the presence of a physical store can double a retailer’s online sales in that local catchment.

"If we look ahead to 2026, research carried out by CACI and Revo suggests that 77 per cent of transactions will still touch a store, even with the overall percentage of online sales increasing from around 20 per cent to 30 per cent.

"If this is considered with the expectation that overall store numbers in the UK will decrease, there will be a continued demand from brands for high-quality, high-footfall locations where they can maximise their productivity and profitability."

Sorry, Matt - the store IS dying.

Worried About Being Knocked?

Should Intu go bust, the knock-on effect to the construction industry would be huge.

Many builders, including Sir Robert McAlpine and Vinci, are in mid-build and mid-refurbishment of Intu centres.

That's Capital

Facilities services provider, Churchill Group, has received an investment from ESO Capital Partners.

Joel Briggs of Churchill said: “ESO’s backing will greatly support our business goals and our rapid and resilient growth. With an institutional partner on board, we will be able to focus on our valued clients across all sectors.”

10 Things To Do Differently When Working From Home

Stay in bed and hide under the duvet nursing a massive hangover was not amongst the recommendations from the Advanced Workplace Institute (AWI) which is part of Advanced Workplace Associates (AWA), a firm with 28 years in managing remote teams.

Instead, they recommend you still spend time remotely socialising with colleagues when you’re apart – stay in touch with what’s going on in their lives to build cohesion and closeness.

Make your activities visible to colleagues – they can’t see you physically, so make sure they know what you’re doing and if you need support.

Jointly agree on how to run virtual meetings and always use video to see how people are and how they react – we need more feedback when we are apart.

Take responsibility for maintaining relationships – find out what colleagues need and share what you need – don’t leave it to chance.

Overtly demonstrate you can be trusted by delivering on your promises – trustworthiness is more difficult to judge when you’re apart.

Go out of your way to make information available to people – it’s harder to track information down when you’re working remotely.

Critically review your communication style – without visual cues and careful listening, we overlook what helps or hinders others being their best.

Make sure people know about your expertise – virtual teams have fewer opportunities to demonstrate/learn about each other’s knowledge and skills.

Understand each other’s personalities and preferences – work on accommodating differences and not letting distance divide you.

Offer emotional support and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

“There is a lot we take for granted when we're in the office. When we're working away, we need to consciously develop new leadership and workership practices,” says Andrew Mawson, founder of AWA.

AWI is running a FREE online session which will take place on 26 March 2020 at 4:00pm GMT.

To register - Click Here

Download At Home

Magenta, the communications agency for the built environment (and for AWA) has launched a guide to support organisations communicating with remote workers during the you-know-what outbreak.

The guide includes top tips and practical advice for organisations instigating remote working policies for the first time. The guide includes advice around:

- Managing workload expectations for well employees, those with caring responsibilities and those who are unwell.
- Over-communicating -  there’s no such thing as too much communication when you’re remote working.
- Investing in good technology - strong, reliable Wi-Fi is the holy grail of the remote worker to enable regular video-conferencing and use of collaborative tools.
- Supporting employees to set up an ergonomically sound home-working environment.
- Insisting on video calls to reduce a sense of isolation and improve communication.
- Keeping calendars updated and sharing diaries so people know when colleagues are available.
- Sticking to similar routines as the office environment to remain productive and focused.
- Taking breaks including virtual coffee time for teams to boost morale.

The guide can be downloaded here

Worcester City Council Maintenance Contract

Graham FM has secured a building repairs, maintenance and minor works contract with Worcester City Council.

The contractor will deliver reactive maintenance, planned maintenance, minor works projects and out of hours emergency works over an initial five-year term, with the potential for a further two-year extension.

Employee Engagement

Axis Group, the security, cleaning, front-of-house and support services organisations, has won a UK Customer Satisfaction Award 2020 for its Employee Engagement Strategy.

Their strategy has nine distinct business components. It is now the cornerstone of the company ethos and integral to Axis’ ongoing goal to become ‘The Employer of Choice’ within its sector. The strategy is also credited for the positive impact on staff retention which has increased year on year - and made the employees much happier!

World Happiness Day falls on March 20.

Got a story for us? Please send news stories & press releases to: