WH Smith Under Fire

The high street retailer WH Smith has recently been condemned for their abandonment of professional contract cleaners. The company has disregarded these professional contract cleaners in favour of their own retail staff despite the swine flu pandemic. Smiths have delegated cleaning to every day staff as part of their general duties, a move that has been condemned by the British Cleaning Council (BCC) as well as the Cleaning and Support Services Association (CSSA).

In an attempt to cut costs the high street chain has slashed the use of professional contract cleaners to once a week in some of its stores. This has left staff in the lurch as they are now required to sweep floors and carry out general cleaning in store.


Regardless of opposition from staff and cleaning firms currently under contract with WH Smith, the retailer’s chief executive Kate Swann pressed ahead with the policy. This decision was criticised by Andrew Large when he spoke on behalf of the BCC and CSSA. He described the measures as potentially unlawful before going on to criticise them as damaging to good hygiene at a time when this was increasingly important. Large also promised to investigate if professional contract cleaners were made redundant when they should have remained under the employment of WH Smith.

Mr Large criticised the high street giant’s actions claiming that “WH Smith is depriving itself of skills and expertise of cleaning professionals.” He went on to say that there is “no guarantee that the shop workers will have the necessary skills or training to be able to maintain the stores to a satisfactory standard.”

It is clear that if an organisation wishes to maintain proper infection control practices then the best option is to employ professional contract cleaners with all of the necessary expertise. It is only by doing this that a company can be sure that all the necessary measures are being taken to combat the transmission of the swine flu virus, ideally through the use of  swine flu sanitizer, wipes and hard surface cleaners. With thousands of customers browsing through the retailer’s magazines on a daily basis, it is both irresponsible and potentially dangerous for WH Smith to cut back on professional contract cleaners at this time.

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