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Wanted: Programmable, low-cost wet cleaning machines

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Kavita Bhatia, Director, Cleanovo

Retail laundries have entered the B2B space. People are opting for comfort over style when it comes choosing garments. Wet cleaning is taking precedence over dry cleaning. Indian businesses are looking to expand abroad. In this interview, Kavita Bhatia, Director, Cleanovo revealed many more trends in the retail laundry space.

The demand in the laundry industry varies based on the area, the geography and the types of garments. What would be your forecast for this?

People are gravitating towards garments that are easy to wear. They select fabrics that are easy to work with. Even fashionable wear is trending towards oversized clothing. These are simple to put on and take care of. It also looks good.

People are opting for garments that are easy to care for; not in their homes, but by professionals who can clean their garments. This is my primary focus area and forecast.

What is the profile of your customers? Do designer garments also come to your stores? What are the customer-specific requirements that you encounter?

Our primary business is sophisticated retail laundry. We cater to high-profile clients who dress in branded clothing. Secondly, we occasionally receive designer wear during the wedding season. As a result, our stores are frequented by a mix of 50% high-profile customers and 50% designer wear customers.

It is important to note that these high-end customers expect us to maintain their regular garments such as expensive T-shirts. They require that we ensure that the shape of the garment is not distorted and that the colour does not run. These are some of the customer-specific specifications we receive on a daily basis.

When it comes to designer wear, the customer expects us to pay close attention to the embellishments, embroidery, colour and texture of the garment. Because these are expensive garments, it is our primary responsibility to handle them with care.

What will be the kind of machines that will be more in use?

The world is moving towards sustainability, as well as chemical-free cleaning. Wet cleaning is becoming more popular and is an important part of the laundry business. As a result, we will need more wet cleaning machines. We require programmable machines with low capacity and low costs.

What are the kinds of machines which are not yet in use in India that you plan to introduce?

Wet cleaning requires programmable machines, as previously stated. I’ve noticed that some companies have launched machines for spot cleaning as well as delicate cleaning. This procedure causes minimal disruption to the garment. These machines are
not yet available in India and should be.

As for bulk cleaning, of course, we need big machines which can help in the auto-folding and auto-packing of linen, as well as vacuum packing.

We need steam presses in retail laundries because they make our jobs much easier, rather than pressing laundered garments for longer periods of time. This will assist us in shortening the process; ironing time can be significantly reduced.

What are the new solutions that you’ve introduced? And what are the kind of solutions that you’re looking for?

We are now using imported chemicals that are high in enzymes and are environmentally-friendly. We use solutions that are gentle on the fabric. Because the garments we get are sophisticated, we cannot use caustic soda or similar chemicals in our programme or in the machines.

If new solutions are introduced in other countries, we would undoubtedly like to test some of them here in India as well.

What are your strategies for growth? How do you see yourself diversifying into other streams?

We already have 32 stores across India, and intend to open more stores in each city, as we do not want our clientele to be concentrated in one small area. We want to spread throughout the city and cater to each area.

We have also started a little bit of B2B services, apart from B2C, which has been our mainstay. For B2B, we have started operations in the last six months, and we plan to expand.

Which cities are you currently located in? Are you planning to expand internationally?

We have six cities in India so far, beginning with Mumbai. Then there’s Delhi, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Cochin. Very soon, we will be able to cater to Pune and the surrounding areas.

Internationally, we are in discussions for establishing our presence in Australia. We are considering establishing ourselves in Sydney. The negotiations are ongoing.

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