London’s dry cleaners want to be “non-essential” business

Even though classified as essential business, London's dry cleaners see no customers

London’s dry cleaners have warned they may face extinction unless the government allows them to be classed as ‘non-essential’ and given support grants to close.

70 dry cleaning companies have written a letter to the government stressing that if no financial aid is given a large proportion of the industry would be “dead by spring”.

London’s dry cleaners like Adil is requesting support grant given to non-essential business

Speaking to MyLondon on behalf of the other signatories, Haringey dry cleaner Adil Shayk said that the government’s exclusion of the industry had left him operating on just 10 per cent of his income and fearing eviction.

The 36-year-old from Romford has run Crystal Dry Cleaners in South Tottenham for five years with his young family.

Until the pandemic, business had been fruitful but ever since restrictions have been introduced Adil says he and many other businesses have been struggling to stay afloat.

He explained: “So many small businesses are struggling. Nobody is listening to them. We need people to help us, we’re getting into debt and we can’t have access to grants and loans to pay off the debt.

“We have no customers at the moment. I am operating on 10 per cent of the profits I would usually make. We are totally reliant on services. If you are not going to the office or out to a party, you’re not wearing a suit and you’re not using a dry cleaners.

“There are no weddings and no tourism work to speak of.

“We want to be supported in closing, there is no business and we are not an essential service if nobody is using us. We cannot trade with no business. You come in to work and you might make £10.”

As dry-cleaners are classed as essential businesses they have not been told to close and have therefore been excluded from government support grants.

According to Adil, this is a fundamental misreading of the sector’s economic preparedness to survive.

He explained: “We have been refused the ‘additional restrictions grant’ by local councils in the past and the same decision has been notified for the most recent “cash grants” announced on 5th January by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

“70 per cent of dry cleaners in the country have now been forced to close without support, these are all small family businesses.

“If the government gave us the £9,000 grants they gave to other retail in January we might be OK.”

And for Adil personally, the financial situation could not be any more bleak.

With his wife working flat out to make ends meet, he says he is staring down the very real possibility of eviction.

He said: “I’m not making any money at the moment, my income has been dramatically reduced.

“My wife is working for us while I look after my son. I can’t go on much longer.

“If something doesn’t happen soon I’ll have to tell my landlord I can’t pay at the moment.

“If he wants to evict me, fine, but I can’t go on killing myself like this.”

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