The History of Shortridge Ltd.
The company as it is today developed from the expansion of Cumbrian firm North West Laundries who, as they moved northwards, acquired the Dumfries-based Shortridge in 2005.
As the market grew for the company's services, a depot was opened in North Yorkshire to enable deliveries to a wider area. This meant that the name 'North West' no longer fit the bill, so all three sites adopted the Shortridge name.
However, despite the name change, the company is still owned and managed by the same two families who started North West Laundries back in 1993. The expansion required investment in stock and machinery to service new customers, and it created new jobs. Further expansion has seen the opening of a new, larger depot in Darlington which also services customers in the North East.
Both North West Laundries and the original Shortridge built their local reputations on an exceptional level of quality and service. By merging the two, the company now reaches customers across the North of England, and Southern and Central Scotland.
The business, originally a cleaners and dyers serving households throughout Dumfries, was founded by Thomas Shortridge in 1845. Interestingly Thomas had only recently returned to the area after learning his trade in Whitehaven, a small town just a few miles from the current Shortridge head office at Lillyhall Industrial Estate in Cumbria!
Over the years the business grew, moving first to a new site on Dumfries High Street in 1852 and then to the Stakeford site in 1876 where they remained for many years. The water from a nearby loch was found to be ideal for dying and a direct supply was arranged. The business remained in family ownership until 1947 when Thomas Shortridge's grandson John retired. Mr Aikman Smith took over and the company continued to go from strength to strength. Newspaper clippings kept by a helpful employee of the time show that the business continued to expand throughout the South West of Scotland and even began catering for the stars of stage and screen in London. Throughout the 1940's Anne Crawford, Sheila Sim, Richard Attenborough, Ann Ziegler, and Jean Simmons all appeared in newspaper adverts for the firm.
In 1970 the company began supplying the hospitality market, providing linen hire and laundry services for hotels. This venture was successful for many years and the company catered for business throughout South West Scotland. Mr Aikman-Smiths death in 1989 brought an end to more than 40 years of dedicated leadership and a local consortium bought the company in 1990. They continued to run the company until 2005 when North West Laundries took over.
North West Laundries
Originally based near Keswick in Cumbria, North West Laundries was founded in 1993. The company provided linen hire and laundry services to hotels and other local businesses throughout the Lakes.
The rapid growth of the company meant a new, larger site was soon needed and the move to Lillyhall Industrial Estate was completed in 1996. This was an ideal location for serving the rest of Cumbria and the company continued to expand moving to the current site at Lillyhall in 2000.
By 2005 North West Laundries supplied businesses throughout Cumbria and were nearing the border! The acquisition of Shortridge allowed them to move into Scotland. In 2008 a depot was opened in Thirsk allowing the company to cover more of the North East and North Yorkshire, with further expansion in that region facilitated by the new Darlington depot.
Investment in machinery has continued: in 2014, the company invested well over £1M in state-of-the-art laundry equipment, including washers, dryers, and ironers. Annual investment of over £500,000 in the best linen and towels from around the world helps to keep Shortridge's standards at the forefront of the industry.