India and China are prominent in the pages of LCNi this month.

The Chinese market has been much talked of over the last year. Mentions have not always been favourable. With the end of the WTO quota system on imports at the beginning of this year, many in the textile industry in particular sees it as a threat and have issued warnings that the market could be swamped by Chinese goods.

But for our industries the outlook could be more positive. The next few years will see much increase in building in preparation for the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and the World Expo in Shanghai in 2010. Both events will bring international visitors, expecting international standards of services. International manufacturers of laundry and drycleaning equipment can benefit from that demand but to do so they may well need a different approach from that taken in the past.

The opportunities are not straightforward. China’s mystique and its political past still linger. Local knowledge Is essential, and partnerships with locally based companies or the setting up of locally staffed subsidiaries the most likely route, but the opportunities are there and I believe we will see links become more direct.

This month, we hear that the Girbau Group is setting up a mainland subsidiary, not just as part of a general strategy of integration but because it wants to offer the country a better service. It stresses that machines will still be Spanish made.

Of course China wants to establish outward links. We have already seen the SailStar Group establish a strong European presence, and last year the Sea-Lion Machinery Group established a partnership with UK-based Cherry Tree to bring its machines to Europe. With Europe’s labour costs increasing, China could be seen to have a competitive advantage.

India is a different case. In his account of the Indian market and the prospects it holds, Rajiv Kumar describes a laundry and drycleaning market ready for development.

The country is ready for considerable growth. Tourism of all kinds is on the increase. The country is tipped as the next big destination for upmarket travellers, as well as for those on a more modest budget.

A combination of a stronger economy and a move from traditional social structures means a stronger domestic demand for higher service standards.

The lifting of quotas means that the country’s textile and garment market is ready to advance, but it too needs the support of a more professional service sector.

To date laundry and drycleaning services have been limited, even in commercial operations the equipment is often relatively simple. The skills are there, but the technology lags. The introduction of more sophisticated operations using imported machinery has begun but the pace is slow.

Realising the “potential” means a broad approach. Expert help and an increased awareness of wider concerns such as the environment and quality control are all needed.

The future will be interesting.