The world congress in Bruges focused on the enormous potential, still to be exploited, of laundry business that can possibly multiply the billions of turnover both in Europe and in the USA. The key being the ability to adapt the technology and marketing strategy to the requests that are not based on unlimited resources anymore. A visit to advanced Belgian laundries concluded this international event that recorded a rather low number of Italian attendees
Industrial laundries – an extraordinarily potential market. Worth more than 19 billion dollars in the U.S. alone today, it has the potential of achieving at least 28 according to Mr. David Potack, the President of Textile Rental Services Association. As far as Europe is concerned, the 11 billion turnover in 2012 in textile loan sector mentioned by Mr. Juha Laurio, the President of a Finnish multinational company, Lindstrom Group can at least be doubled.
The above figures constitute the main reason for the world congress of industrial laundries held in Bruges from 5 to 7 October 2016 in Belgium by Trsa, Etsa and Fbt organizations (World Textile Services Congress). They refer to textile business and laundry services that clearly imply such a concrete development potential that events like this one turn out to be necessary, especially if arranged in Bruges, the lovely “Belgian Venice” situated two hours by car from Bruxelles and the European Council.
Herman Van Rompuy, the European Council President from 2009 to 2014 opened the congress carrying a message to all the industrial laundries in the world on behalf of the political and economical establishment that governs the advanced globalization processes spread over five continents today. “Make and follow the possible rules and guidelines on development strategies aimed at shared targets” Van Rompuy briefly told 163 attendees in Bruges representing companies and associations from 11 European countries, the USA and Canada.
The central theme of various speeches that strengthened the clear opening message, was “demand”. It was underlined that wherever one looks, there is a possibility of intercepting needs on massive and continuative services, requests to be met thanks to the deep and updated analysis of a post-crisis market that tends to be light, flowing and changing.
“Let’s turn to the health care sector, and how radically it is changing its reference models and aspects”, the invitation expressed by Mrs. Mia Decaestecker, the President of a Belgian laundry giant, Malysse-Sterima group, and more precisely: “the mandatory necessity to decrease the costs is turning hospitals into more and more digital places, organized in a way that allows to cure patients at home more than in hospitals. At the same time, the public health service budget will always be subjected to spending reviews, therefore we can suppose that some new future health service models could be created, able to better unify and distribute the resources. Also the laundries are being called to adjust to this new health care trend, offering and experimenting new service models”.
“Since the crisis in 2008, there has certainly been an increase in demand” says Charlie Betteridge, the Vice President of Christeyns, a Belgian multinational manufacturer of products and laundry services provider. He continues: “the demand that, considering strict budgets, is trying to intersect with quality increase and accessible prices. We are facing a difficult and fascinating challenge here”. Talking about a challenge seems to be the crucial boosting point for the next three “big” speakers of the laundry sector. One of them is Mr. Martin Kannegiesser, the President of the German group, who says that “the cost of labour should never be intended as the biggest cost for a company. On the contrary, it is to be intended as its main resource”.
The speech by Mr. Jesper Munch Jensen, the President of Jensen Group underlined the undeniable importance of innovation and how its predictable power is often underestimated today as demonstrated by two exemplary names, Steve Jobs in IT sector and Nikola Tesla, a physicist whose name has been adopted by the German electric cars manufacturer.
Finally, Mr. Sam de Boo, the Vice President of the chemical giant Ecolab, a perfectly organised people-oriented company, talked about Safety and Health, topics that had inspired his presentation.
Notes and perspectives highlighted during the congress were fully reflected while visiting the laundries around Bruges the following day. One of them, the Dumoulin laundry, highly admired by the visitors due to its essential and rigorous base ergonomics with the separation of sanitary linen and workwear line as well as the advanced technology applied to the suspended conveyor belts.
Marginal footnotes. Not secondary comments though, for someone who, working in the laundry sector, is fond of the image of their country.
by Stefano Ferrio
Detergo Magazine – October 2016