Every exhibitor at the Laundrex India Expo referred to laundry as a ‘sunshine industry’. And over the three packed days of the Expo, the sun shone down upon a deluge of established laundry entrepreneurs and the new entrants whose numbers indicate the exponential growth of the sector in the last one year itself. Clean India Journal documents the shifts in the laundry industry
In the words of Zehen Arora, Director-Stefab, “Indians have finally started looking at getting their clothes professionally cleaned as a utility rather than a luxury.” Consequently, more and more laundromats and laundry cafes are sprouting up across India, and their owners and investors are becoming choosier and more demanding. No longer will they buy from the cheapest source. Akash Dharamsey, Director-ADD Laundry Concepts said: “Customers who were only focussed on price now look at the whole package. Value proposition has become more important. Entrepreneurs want to work only with those companies who have straightforward dealings rather than with those that only offer deep discounts.”
B Krishnamoorthy, Business Head-Industrial Products, IFB said that the days of an investor merely purchasing machines from a company and then never hearing from it again are over. “From store layout to power, water and water hardness parameters, manufacturers are now consulted before any decision is made; the latter now provides end-to-end solutions rather than just hardware.” The availability and reliability of a manufacturer’s after-sales service have also become a strong deciding point in its favour.
Buyers are looking beyond the sticker price to examine the life-cycle of a laundry machine, which includes maintenance. Naturally, they want to associate with companies for a period of years rather than a one-time transaction.
The increase in the capacities of machines year after year is inexorable. D Elangovan, Director, United Machines said: “Until a few years ago, the average capacity of a commercial laundry was 1 tonne per day; now, that figure is around six tonnes, and we are already heading towards 15-20 tonnes per day.” The economies of scale are helping cut down costs for both entrepreneurs and those who patronise laundries.
Earlier, when one went to a dhobi, one would see him attach cloth tags to one’s garments for identification. Now, laundries print bar-coded tags for each garment, which are scanned and logged in a system. By using this, all data about a customer, which garments he regularly sends for cleaning, and the type of fabric, is stored in a database.