The French drycleaning market is important to international suppliers and a high proportion of that market is Paris-based.

So although the stands at Cleantex 05 (10 and 11 April, Paris) had been booked by local distributors, several representatives from the principals’ headquarters had made the effort to attend and would also be attending a similar show to be held the following week. The list of names included Gabriele Cuppini of Union, Ken Uchikoshi of Sankosha, Renzacci managing director Gabrio Renzacci and sales manager Marco Niccolini, and Roberto Grandi export manager of Realstar.

The show marked the first exhibition for the partnership of Japanese finishing specialist Sankosha and Girbau France.

The latter was confirmed as Sankosha’s French distributor at the beginning of 2005. It was a partnership that attracted much attention as did the demonstrations of Sankosha equipment.

Jérôme Guéné, managing director of Girbau France, said his company has a network of distributors, covering each area of the country, which worked directly with Girbau’s six strong sales team. Sankosha, he said, was very important for his customers, as the company is strong in the hotel sector and the finishing range was of the right quality. Exhibits on the stand were aimed mainly at drycleaners and these included the WF740 trouser topper, the WF50E adjustable height coat/jacket finisher and the CN567 shirt finisher, partnered by the CN660E collar and cuff machine.

French drycleaners have a tradition of hand ironing so KMP450RE press represented new technology for this market, but had the attraction being able to double as an ironing table.

Girbau’s own exhibits included the coin-op range of washer, dryer and payment centre. In a separate area, it was also showing a wetcleaning system. The new solvent directive will bring wetcleaning more to the fore for the French drycleaners.

The Electrolux Group has long been a supporter of wetcleaning and has developed the AquaClean concept. Jean Perret, in charge at Electrolux France, said that last year he sold more than 30 AquaClean systems. It is suitable, said Perret, not just for drycleaners, but also for care homes and for four star hotels.

However customers do have to have training to use the system to its best advantage. So the company has an agreement with Dominique Faisant, who runs a training school, to include training as part of the package with every system sold.

Faisant told LCNi that training was well organised in the French market. Government help with training costs is available to employers and prospective employees aged 16-26 years could enter a special working contract under which they worked for two weeks then trained (free of charge to them) at the school for one week, repeating this pattern for two years before taking an exam.

Gabriele Cuppini of Union said that his company has been represented at previous Cleantex shows. Union machines were featured by Berbey, the distributor for Paris, central and eastern France. However Cuppini made a point of a personal visit, because the show targeted the important French market, and Paris, where the show was held, was home to 30% of the French drycleaners.

The French market is 99% perc and the company was showing the XLP800 series, introduced at Union’s convention in Italy last year. This complies with all the latest emission requirements. It provides both slimline and standard machines in 10kg, 12kg and 15kg sizes. The machines can work on at least two cycles an hour. All can have carbon and solvent recovery built in. Most of the maintenance is automatic and there is a maintenance reminder program.

Realstar export manager Roberto Grandi felt that shows such as Cleantex presented a good opportunity to assess the feeling of the market, and in particular, the Paris trends.

The Italian company’s machines were being exhibited by Sodep, France, the company’s local distributor covering Paris and the Îsle de France. The RS line of perc machines were on show. They had been successful in France, as the relationship between price and quality is good. Slimline machines cover 10kg, 12kg and 15kg capacities with standard machines available in the same capacities and in both two and three tank versions.

France has always been a strategic market for developing products said Grandi. It includes many different types of customer from big chains to small independents.

The laundry side was well represented. Armstrong France had a full display and Renzacci’s laundry division also featured. Renzacci managing director Gabrio Renazacci and sales manager Marco Niccolini had come to the show. “We are here to introduce a totally revolutionary dryer to the French market,” explained Niccolini. The dryer operates on a totally closed circuit and therefore needs no exhaust but also has consumption figures very similar to those of a gas heated dryer and reduced power installation requirements in terms of kiloWatts.

Right now, he said, gas is a point of concern because of the safety devices that need to be installed but the problem is developing an alternative with low operating costs, the main selling point for gas dryers. The energy-saving closed circuit machine provided a solution.

Eberhardt Freres, based in Strasbourg, holds national exclusive distributorships for Ipso washing machines, Firbimatic drycleaning machines, Metalprogetti conveyors and was also showing Ariane finishing equipment. It employs 140 people, with 14 dedicated to drycleaning services.

The director of sales, Fabien Lafourcade pointed out some of the highlights of the stand. These included Ipso washers which were especially suitable for washing duvets. The machines have very wide doors, an extract speed of 1,000rpm and are available in 6kg and 18kg sizes.

Drycleaning machine company UniSec is part of the Servi Seco group of Spain. It was established 10 years ago in the home country but this is the first time in France. It was exhibiting with distributor Challenger Dry and showing a range of perc machines.

Malkan, the Turkish specialist in ironing equipment, had visited the show to look for a French agent.

It currently exports to 49 countries (all equipment is CE marked) including the UK but not yet to France.