Each year the Worshipful Company sponsors several Travelling Scholars with the purpose of exposing them to facilities and operations within the industry to which they may not otherwise have the opportunity of seeing or learning about. This year, despite the depredations of Covid which curtailed plans for the Scholars to attend Texcare in Frankfurt last year (now moved to 2024), a UK tour was arranged by the Company. Scholars visited the new Swiss Laundry in Cambridge as well as Micronclean and Synergy LMS premises over three days.

Swiss Laundry’s managing director Guy Turvill hosted the Open Day at the new premises sharing the Swiss journey from 1904, when the business was formed to support the Cambridge University Colleges and the local domestic market. In 2004 Swiss acquired Camplings in Great Yarmouth and both businesses have grown steadily since then. In 2017, Camplings relocated to new premises, also, in Great Yarmouth, building a brand new, steamfree laundry with support from key supply partners Girbau, Christeyns and WSP. In 2019, Swiss replicated a relocation to Papworth with similar valued support from its partners.

The visitors, together with several Liverymen from the Company, toured the factory which services the hospitality market in East Anglia. Networking and discussions continued over lunch where Swiss Camplings’ directors, Doug Muttitt, Craig Saunt and Mark Turvill were able to expand on the business’s story and experiences. In the afternoon, a question and answer session was held which provoked lively contributions. Topics covered included:

  • Environmental policy and sustainability – energy consumption, shrink wrap challenges and how we communicate what we are doing as an industry
  • Steam free versus conventional steam set up – the flexibility and challenges/findings of moving to a stream set up
  • Finding a new site – the compromise between having solutions for the key aspects of labour supply, building size/space, road network and utility provision
  • Recruitment and retention – a continual challenge for all laundries.
  • Pay rates – a general feeling rates will need to keep going up and customers will have to pay. Being flexible with hours offered to staff and shift patterns is being felt and, isn’t easy to implement.

Student perspective

Scholar Aniko Rucz of Priory Dry Cleaners writes:

"On the first day, we visited Synergy LMS and had a great time with Wayne Wright, operations manager, who showed us around and answered all our questions. As a graduate of accounting from the factory floor, I was amazed at the operation and production system. I found it interesting to see the quantity Synergy is processing daily and how it is not affecting their continuing operation time, which is an average 99.7%. I also learned that there is an in-house Kannegiesser trained engineer and team leaders have excellent engineering minds, too. A“On our second day, we visited Swiss Laundry. Guy and Mark Turville have so much passion and pride about their newly built plant, and quite rightly, as the technology they have installed is really eye-opening. I liked the fact that there is no steam boiler involved and how efficiently it works with its Girbau equipment. Also, the 200,000 litre water tank they built was a big project and there were some landscape issues, but they cleverly found the way to build it securely. I was pleased to see they use Tikos software which is used by our unit in Worcester. There was also an impressive chemical system with the CoolBrite set up by Christeyns. I learned that using these technologies helps them to save on energy. We were also introduced to some other unit owners and members of the Worshipful Company of Launderers, who shared their knowledge with us.

“On our third day, we visited Micronclean where we found its chairman Simon Fry’s innovative thinking was something extraordinary. I haven’t seen anything so complex but so well organised before. The RFID merged with the Protrack system designed by Simon was not only smart but unique too. I learned that they have a unique concept for the garment processing all over the UK and have opened a plant in India. Micronclean hopefully, soon, will be opening another unit in the UK or in the EU. Its efficiency, SKIES programme, and family-oriented mind set is something really close to our ideology at Priory Dry Cleaners. We were also given an overview of Micronclean’s successor and graduation programmes.”

Committed to education

Applicants for future Scholarships should work within the laundry and cleaning industry and be supported by their employer. Please apply in the first instance to John Shonfeld, chair of education at
E: John@tibard.co.uk