Artisan-commercial laundry businesses multiply services aimed at personal care while Africa and Asia offer new scenarios for textile maintenance. The indications below result from the exchange of views with authoritative sector operators
Do new laundry markets exist? Are they growing?
Looking for answers to the above, the global event, EXPOdetergo International is the best occasion to witness the extraordinary dynamics that has distinguished the entire sector of textile care for some years now. The almost total extinction of the glorious family-run small dye and dry-cleaning shops has only partly been compensated by the widely spread self-service structures. Also, the new types of businesses have been conquering their market position, designed to service market niches by offering services that range from carpets washing to motorcycle helmets cleaning. As far as industrial laundries are concerned, the picture seems to be a bit more stable, linked to the continuously offered “service” to sectors like health care, nursery structures for the elderly, hospitality and restaurants. In addition, some new, rising sectors such as workwear turn out to be triggering more and more interest.
“The context has been made fluid by current social transformations: there are fewer traditional families and more single households, there is more attention to wellness rather than to the very idea of cleaning, we wear completely different clothing if compared to the last century” starts Corinna Mapelli, a co-owner of Trevil, a producer of ironing machines based near Milan. She continues: “In the world where personal services have multiplied infinitely, it is clear that artisan and commercial businesses have to adjust to new standards and needs by expanding their offer range beyond just garments. I am talking about carpets, shoes, mattresses, covers and anything we cannot wash at home”.
“Another business aspect, an added value we should bear in mind – concludes Corinna Mapelli – concerns the organization of garments withdrawal and delivery. Shops that have made the service automated by making it possible for clients to get their garments cleaned within 24 hours using a card, will demonstrate to have that extra gear especially if they operate in big cities”.
“A new market does not only exist already but it is developing quickly, too”. Here come the words by Marco Niccolini, the Sales Director at Renzacci, a producer of washing machines for laundries based in Città di Castello. He explains: “I am referring to hundreds of commercial activities and shops in Italy that, just like it happens abroad, have chosen the concept of wellness as the primary goal. The requests for machines that can guarantee garments disinfection and not only the cleaning are increasing everywhere: they seem to be necessary if we only think about the new viruses and illnesses, some of them contagious”.
“We are quickly moving – adds Niccolini – towards textile care that will require artisan shops to stay this way as they offer personal services, yet to acquire similar management models to industrial laundries at the same time. This is due to the constant increase in electronic applications on the one hand, and on the other hand, due to the growing necessity of conforming to the format 4.0 in terms of sustainability of machines and plants as well as energy saving. These are the crucial choices that guarantee clients’ well-being in a coherent way”.
“Today, sanitization and automation constitute the main roads to follow for laundries of XXI century” confirms Walter Cividini, the CEO of Fimas, a producer of ironing machines based in Vigevano. He continues: “I have personally seen numerous entrepreneurs invest a lot in order to reach these goals. This way, they can offer something more to clients, meaning excellent standards of hygiene and, at the same time, they choose machines that can do almost everything without the intervention of operators which translates to saving in labour”.
“Still, Italy represents the country – Cividini concludes – of an infinite number of small towns and villages. Businesses with a long-term outlook that guarantee an honest service in territories where no such thing exists anymore, will definitely be awarded”.
“Surely, – as we learn from closed business deals – laundries have taken roots also in North Africa and in Middle East” reveals Daniele Battistella, the owner of Battistella B.G., a producer of ironing machines based in Rossano Veneto. “It is not always easy to start a business negotiation – Battistella continues – but it is also true that we have often seen businesses from those areas take contacts with us and then disappear for some time only to come back later on and close a deal. I need to say that, in hindsight and judging from my own experience, the attractive power of Made in Italy is still there and it makes a difference”.
“In order to enter these new markets – Battistella sums up – one needs to possess three fundmental qualities: a direct relation with the client, the ability to negotiate and good communication skills”.
“If modern industrial laundries want to keep up with markets that are changing, they need to integrate their ironing lines in order to obtain a full service that includes the treatment of garments coming from the health care sector and from the hospitality sector, apart from working for third parties as it happens e.g. in case of shirts” we learn from Pony’s communication, a producer of ironing machines based in Inzago near Milan whose President is Paolo Fumagalli. “At the same time, it becomes more and more important to make operations faster by making the work of the operators easier. This way we obtain both better results and the reduction of the management costs as well as the reduction in energy consumption. Today, technology offers solutions able to perfectly meet these requests by solid, highly professional and reliable machines at the right quality/price ratio”.
The plural of “markets” also means new territories and continents where to invest.
The “morale” of this tale in the reportage format is provided by Stenilio Morazzini, the CEO of Montega, a producer of chemical products for laundries based in Misano Adriatico. “Of course there are new markets in which we need to invest and believe” Morazzini claims. He explains in detail: “We do live in a globalized world, but we notice differences that characterize it every day. Perhaps they integrate. For example, as far as the production of denim and jeans fabrics is concerned, today we tend to look at India and Far East. In Italy, the sector has decreased significantly if compared to the past years. Yet today, Italy stands out as far as the care for detail and excellent textile maintenance are concerned more than ever. Because also in XXI century, our country keeps being the Country of Beauty”.
by Stefano Ferrio