The neighbourhood dhobi is slowly losing appeal, as people now realise that the crude methods of washing adopted by these traditional cleaners, the quality of water and the detergents used by them are not conducive to good hygiene. The increasing awareness on hygiene, especially in the healthcare and hospitality sectors, has created a niche market for commercial services in the laundry sector. Besides, there is a growing tendency to establish on-premise laundry services.
Laundry equipment suppliers agree that the need and demand for hygienic and automated laundry services in India is growing. Maintaining hygiene is a big issue. When people visit hotels, no matter what class they belong to, they look for clean towels and sheets. You will never go back to a hotel that has soiled sheets or towels. The option of outsourcing laundry to dhobis or commercial service providers often doesn’t meet the requisite cleanliness and hygiene. Hence, there is a growing pressure in the hospitality sector to provide the whitest of the linen and many hotels and hospitals are looking at investing in laundry machines.
In Europe, the demand is more towards smaller laundry machines, while in China the requirement is for bigger ones. However, in India, the demand is for both small as well as big machines.
Given the high level of water consumption in the laundry process, certain machines are equipped with facilities to recycle used water for washing. Effluent treatment is essential to facilitate better utilisation of water. With this technology, up to 70% of water used for washing, can be recycled. Acquarius Appliances is servicing mostly clients from hospitality industry, hostels, corporates, schools and hospitals.
Lately, the laundry equipment industry is seeing a growing demand from sectors like educational institutions, corporate houses, hotels and garment export. This trend demands installing of sturdy industrial machines for hassle free delivery.
Increasing demand for washers and extractors means steady growth for the laundry manufacturers. With the organised sector and foreign companies entering into the laundry and cleaning industry, consumers now have an access to a variety of quality products and services. Companies like IFB, Stefab, Danube, Girbau, Fabcare, Primus, UniMac and others have come up with highly efficient washer extractors and dryers, which are available in India directly through the principal company or through local manufacturers and suppliers like Ramsons, Wasmaatic, Acquarius and others.
In the dry-cleaning segment, it has always been good local business for small timers in cities and small towns. With organised players entering the scene, things have changed and customers are fast drifting due to the range of services provided by new operators.
The migration from traditional service providers to avail of these new value added services has been swift. This segment braces for large expansion after the initial success of technology-driven business which is more efficient than the traditional dry-cleaning shops.
High end hotels also prefer in-house laundry as the services are more reliable and hygienic. Considering its advantages, more and more institutions, corporate houses and hospitals are installing laundry machines at their premises.
Consumer behaviour is adapting to these new services of door step pickup and delivery unlike earlier where the customer had to carry clothes to and from the dry cleaners. The Spanish laundry chain Pressto is providing specially programmed cleaning in its machines for Indian linen with embellishments. These features are new to the traditional dry cleaning market. With MNCs entering the dry-cleaning market even in tier-II cities, the traditional dry cleaners are being replaced with organised players.
Laundromats are increasingly becoming a profitable investment. In the smaller cities, the manufacturers of these machines are encouraging people to invest in the business and provide services that are gaining popularity with bachelors and working couples. Laundromats have found early acceptance in Delhi with Quick Clean Laundromat launching coin laundry services closer to educational institutions.
Global recession has not affected the laundry industry as maintaining clothes are seen as a necessity. With all these factors working in favour of Indian laundry industry, rapid growth and expansion is predicted in coming years. No wonder the neighborhood dhobi and the clothes drying in sun are fast becoming a thing of the past.Rina Tripathi