ITALIAN TALENT — Times change, goodbye housewives Lavatris stays. And grows

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Beatrice Poliandri started working in a laundry in Valenza when she was twenty-one. Today, she runs the store after having lived through all the market transformations of the ‘80s: from the end of the previous century economic boom to the decrease of prices and the disappearance of “housewives”, and to the great return of the service quality that she takes care of together with her four employees. With an extra asset, her creativity, that has led her, among other things, to producing tailor-made decoration bows for newborn babies

 

Maria Beatrice Poliandri, 58 years old, an entrepreneur and a perfect indorsement of artisan laundries in 2020. Because if someone should be looking for an image or a story to tell on how a dry-cleaning shop, a heritage of the glorious dry-cleaning businesses of the previous century, could carry out working over a long period of time thanks to the state of the art renovations and restyling, it is enough to go to Valenza, a lively and elegant town in Alessandria, where Maria Beatrice has been running her store, Lavatris, for the last thirty-eight years. The shop, based downtown, covers 350 sq. m. taking two floors, and it hires four people.

The important dimensions of the store are necessary to accommodate the variety of business activities and the high-quality services that this store offers. “Over the last years, one of the activities that I have been dedicated to with great passion – reveals Mrs. Poliandri – is the creation of decoration bows for the newborn. Following the request, I design them in a variety of forms and colors.  Considering the enthusiastic feedback received from my clients, I could actually create an album with all the bows I have made so far. Not only bows really, as I also make bibs for babies”. The products are not to be considered a destination nor an arrival point of this dynamic and creative business but rather another important threshold reached by this almost forty-year-old shop.

“The famous life circumstances – says Maria Beatrice Poliandri – had me start working at this laundry when I was only twenty-one years old to later become its owner. Today, when I look back, I can say that the enthusiasm and focus on the growth of the business I started with have never abandoned me. Otherwise, I would not have been able to win all the challenges I had to face on the way”.

Clearly, in order to be able to move on with the wind in its sails, Lavatris had become an “active” reflection, ready to formulate immediate responses over more than thirty years of the history of dry-cleaning in Italy. “At the beginning, back in the ’80s, it was an immediate boom – the entrepreneur tells us – as we had introduced big news to the local market, a service where the artisan work quality was combined with quick delivery, which was requested by most of our clients”.

“Then, with the arrival of the ’90s – Maria Beatrice Poliandri continues – the competition started to lower prices significantly which obliged us to carry out a change that would allow us to remain competitive without degenerating our company mission. We chose to differentiate leaving the client the freedom to choose between a single price policy for a professional and quick cleaning service and a quality service based on specific requests in terms of treatment “.

This way, the success of Lavatris continues. It is still a leader in the market destined to new transformations. “Since the start of the new century on – explains Mrs. Maria Beatrice – we have witnessed the unavoidable extinction of housewives, mothers who, on the basis of their experience, were able to understand beforehand what was to be washed in house and what should be taken to the laundry. It generated some fear and uncertainty among clients forcing us at Lavatris, to find more reassuring responses. A guideline came from the introduction of wet cleaning, perfect for garments washing that used to be carried out at home”.

It is wet cleaning, the big news in the history of laundry over the last twenty years, a key to better understand the characteristic feature of Lavatris: the open mindedness towards the new. “We welcomed the arrival of Bio with open arms. It put all the artisan dry-cleaners in front of precise choices – the business women continues. – We equipped ourselves with hydrocarbon machines, and we are getting an ozone machine for the disinfection of garments as well as the Clean Bio system that apart from cleaned clothes, guarantees clients’ wellbeing as well”.

Obviously, all this has influenced prices again. “Sure, – confirms the owner of Lavatris – because for a few years now, clients have returned asking for quality at a laundry, performance that cannot be obtained by domestic washing at home. Therefore, it has been a natural choice for us to add a tailoring service in the store for those garments that need fixing, sewing and adapting so that they can last longer. The result is that today, the single price policy has become marginal as far as our business goes, as we have continued working on the basis of the differentiation of services knowing that the majority of people coming here need to find solutions to various problems including treatment of, e.g. shoes or suitcases, that we outsource due to the organizational aspects “.

In this way, Lavatris begins, as always with the wind in its sails, the new decade. “The market will bring new challenges – concludes Maria Beatrice Poliandri. – Personally, I will face them with faith knowing that those we dealt with so far have only been occasions for growth and the discovery of new potential. The decoration bows for the newborn had undoubtedly proved it. Once we had realized there would be a request for them, due to people’s lack of time and abilities to make them at home, I gave it a try and started making them with my own hands. It is something that I would never even imagine I could do, but actually, this is what is beautiful about our business, Lavatris”.

by Stefano Ferrio

Detergo Magazine – January 2020