The major development in the history of Initial occurred in 1968 when it merged with Allied Industrial Services Ltd., another company engaged in the textile maintenance industry. Their activities overlapped to some extent, but were broadly complementary.
Allied owed its origins to a business founded in 1864 to operate a laundry service collecting, washing and drying rags used for cleaning industrial machinery. In 1900 this enterprise merged with two other businesses and in 1914 the company commenced the manufacture of its own cloths. The company's services were diversified by the introduction of a cleaning cloth rental service, and in 1928 it entered the work wear rental business.
Allied was floated in 1934; the business continued to expand, and made several significant acquisitions, notably:
- In 1958 the Scottish laundry group of A. Bell & Sons Ltd. was acquired with its laundry, dyeing and dry cleaning businesses and its interests in industrial and hotel linen supply services
- In 1961 Allied purchased the cleaning cloth business of Saul D Harrison Ltd. in Rochdale
- In 1962 General Industrial Cleaners Ltd, also in the workwear business, was acquired
- In 1965 Allied purchased an interest in Metlex Industries Ltd., a manufacturer of bathroom equipment.
The merger of Initial Services and Allied formed a group of companies with assets of £26 million employing some 6,000 full-time and part-tune employees at 170 premises. It brought together major companies in complementary markets. Initial Services specialized in 'clean work' such as towels and coats while Allied dealt principally in 'dirty work' (boiler suits and cleaning cloths).
by Paul Green