Consolidated Linen Service ready to clean up in regional Queensland

Did you know that a typical hotel room and hospital bed both require up to 7kg of fresh linens daily? It’s no wonder businesses in regional Queensland face challenges in securing a steady supply of clean, high-quality linen and garments, often due to the inefficiencies and limited capacity that burden many laundry operators.

Consolidated Linen Service (CLS) has addressed these challenges by using its network of strategically located laundries and decades of local experience, becoming a trusted partner to businesses driving Queensland’s economy.

With a proud history as a multi-generational family-run business, CLS provides reliable, high-quality linen and textile rental services to critical sectors such as hospitality, mining and healthcare.

With a $6m investment from the Australian Business Growth Fund (ABGF), CLS will expand its production capacity and improve the operational efficiency of its facilities, ensuring more local businesses in Queensland can access reliable linen services.

‘If Australian laundries stop, Australia stops’

In a recent submission to Federal Parliament with the aforementioned title, the Laundry Association of Australia noted that ‘without the work of professional laundries, Australian hospitals, hotels, aged care and other sectors, literally could not remain operational.’

Efficient linen management, for instance, can significantly impact hotel operations. A shortage of fresh linen can delay room turnover, affecting occupancy and customer satisfaction. Maintaining proper inventory levels can also extend linen life by 20-30%, enhancing operational efficiency and cost management.

As a key player in the industry, CLS is an essential service provider to Queensland’s largest economic sectors, ensuring everything from tablecloths and napkins in restaurants, bed sheets in hospitals and aged-care facilities, towels in hotels, and uniforms in mining towns remain clean and functional.

Through times of hardship such as floods and ongoing cost of living pressures, CLS plays a vital role in keeping businesses open, Queenslanders employed, and the economy moving.

From humble beginnings to regional leader

As a multi-generational family business, CLS’s journey began in 1990 when Neville Roberts, a former dairy farmer and concrete pump operator, saw an opportunity to provide linen services to a resort on Fraser Island. Seizing this chance, Neville purchased a small laundry shed in Hervey Bay, laying the foundation for what would become a pioneering force in Queensland’s laundry industry.

Over the past three decades, CLS has woven itself into the very fabric of local communities, becoming a trusted name synonymous with a dedication to service excellence.

Today, the company is managed by Neville’s sons, Adam (Managing Director) and Tom (Group General Manager), who have carried forward their father’s legacy with a focus on technological advancements and diversification to service new sectors.

A major regional employer, CLS operates four main facilities in Hervey Bay, Whitsundays, Gladstone, and Rockhampton, and has a workforce of over 300 employees. The company’s dedication to quality and reliability has earned it a loyal customer base of over 700 active customers, including five-star hotels and resorts, hospitals, Queensland mining camps, and local businesses.

“Our journey has been about more than just growing a business. It’s about making a difference in local communities by providing essential services that our customers can rely on as their businesses grow and expand,” Adam remarks. “Whether it’s a luxury resort or rural hospital, we’ve built strong community relationships over the years, and our commitment to delivering an excellent service to local businesses has positioned us at the forefront of a competitive industry.”

Photo: Tom Roberts (Group General Manager,  CLS), Neville Roberts (Founder, CLS), and Adam Roberts (Managing Director, CLS).

Scale meets personal touch

Commercial linen services involve picking up, sorting, washing, ironing, folding, and delivering linen and garments, often to dozens or hundreds of customers simultaneously. The logistical challenges are substantial, especially with the vast distances between customers across much of regional Queensland.

CLS’s edge lies in its ability to combine the scale of a professional commercial operation with the personalised touch and knowledge of a local family business.

CLS’s strategically located facilities can launder over 400 tonnes of textiles weekly, enabling them to manage over 300 deliveries daily across large parts of regional Queensland, and serve a diverse range of customers. Capable of transporting linen over 25,000 km weekly, CLS’s extensive logistical network ensures customers receive a prompt and efficient service.

CLS is also a pioneer in integrating AI and robotic solutions. Co-developed by CLS, these technological solutions are increasing output, improving issue detection and reducing workplace health risks. CLS is also co-developing chemical dosing and machine learning programs to further optimise its operations.

Regarding CLS’s commitment to innovation, Adam explains, “Our integration of AI and robotics puts us at the forefront of the industry. Innovations like automated sorting and chemical dosing systems enhance our efficiency, reduce environmental impact, and extend equipment life. These technologies ensure we deliver exceptional results and set new standards in linen services.”

CLS’s partnership with ABGF

After experiencing strong growth in recent years, Adam sought an external partner to capitalise on further growth opportunities. He realised that CLS had the right strategies and capabilities to continue to expand but lacked the financial means to execute it effectively.

CLS had spoken with various private equity firms but found themselves in a challenging position—too small for major private equity firms and too large for family offices. Their aim was to accelerate growth, keep up with increasing demand, and prepare for significant future events like the Olympics in 2032.

Explaining their decision to partner with ABGF, Adam said: “We chose ABGF because their growth capital will fast-track our expansion and boost our capacity and efficiency. Importantly, ABGF respects our wish to maintain control, honouring the values my father instilled in our family business.

As an experienced and active investor, ABGF also offered us more than just funding—they bring expertise, resources, and connections that are invaluable as we continue to innovate and break new ground in the industry. In an industry where reliability is crucial, this partnership will help us continue to set new benchmarks for excellence in regional Queensland’s linen services.”

Jack Lin, Investment Director at ABGF, expressed his optimism about the partnership: “At ABGF, we believe in supporting small-medium businesses which play an under-recognised yet outsized role in their community. CLS’s combination of family business values, commercial acumen and scale presents a unique opportunity to enhance regional employment and service reliability in Queensland’s critical sectors. We are proud to partner with the Roberts family and are confident in CLS’s distinctive value proposition, innovative mindset and future growth plans.”

Can ABGF assist your business?

At the Australian Business Growth Fund™, we provide long-term growth capital to enable SMEs to scale without giving up control of their business. Start the conversation with us today.