- by Jan-Olof Bengtsson -
It is important to be sharp and focused when sitting and talking with Gunnar Andréen. “Can you sell surplus energy from the laundry industry? Is it possible to reduce water consumption further? How can the industry develop further? ”
And for all these constant thoughts, untried paths and thoughts that are brought forward during the conversation, really active listening is required. about how the large-scale Swedish laundry industry developed from the seventies until today. Under his leadership, Berendsen's well-thought-out energy efficiency with very small investments has resulted in an almost halved energy consumption and 70 percent less carbon dioxide per kilogram produced. Such for respect with it. "We have achieved a great deal", says Gunnar: "Positive environmental impact, better working environment, increased commitment among staff, cost savings and a strengthened environmental profile".
"Can you sell surplus energy from the laundry industry?"
His career in the laundry industry began in AB Tvättman, which was acquired by Electrolux in 1975 but resold and is since 1991 a wholly owned subsidiary of the Danish laundry group Sophus Berendsen, which was taken over by Davis Service Group in England in 2002, now renamed Berendsen plc. The Electrolux era Gunnar Andréen also managed to work in the USA for a few years. Berendsen in Sweden with 1 employees and 200 customers has long been the country's largest textile service company and supplier of textiles, sheets, towels, workwear, entrance mats and more to industry, shopping centers, hotels and restaurants. The work clothes alone are worn by over 50 people. "I used to say that we are a company in low-tech but in the high-touch industry and with a broad customer group," he concludes.
For many who read this, but who do not have much knowledge of the industry, the following can be repeated: "We wash our own clothes that are rented out", Gunnar concludes. “So we own them. And we have a very big responsibility towards the companies and the hotels that have given us the confidence ”. These are clothes that may need to be in both double and triple sets. And which are now personally marked with microchips so they come right in the extensive but very fast handling. You can actually sum it up in Gunnar Andréen's words: “You buy yourself a relief from complaints. From protective clothing to image clothing. It is clearly becoming more and more profile clothing ”.
"I used to say that we are a company in the low-tech but in the high-touch industry"
A revolutionary cleaning and laundry project that bears Gunnar Andréen's brand is the so-called Etage, which is a system for hotels and which has been exported to chains in both the USA, Japan and Australia. The genius is taken from how the grocery store handles milk packages - from the dairy directly to the fridge. Transferred to the hotels, it is a matter of loading a specially designed cleaning trolley with the right number of sheets and towels depending on the number of rented rooms on the floor. It already happens at the laundry. Once there, the trolley is then connected to a cleaning module that provides a complete cleaning unit. No central storage of linen, No packing at the hotel but everything is delivered counted and ready to each floor. Smooth and time efficient. Success !!! Gunnar Andréen smiles happily when he tells. He has reason to do so.
Internationally, the laundry industry is constantly growing and increasingly environmentally conscious. In the 90s, 26-27 liters of water per washed kilo were required. Today, water consumption is only 7-8 liters per kilo. The "textile rental market", which is the slightly more solemn name, is estimated to have a turnover of eleven billion euros in 30 countries this year. In the EU 28 alone, the laundry industry employs 135 people. "But you do not have to be big in the laundry industry", Gunnar Andréen states and sees the benefits of the small-scale as a complement to the big giants. “Bumpy traffic conditions and lack of private time for private individuals obviously benefit the small laundries. So they clearly have a continued future ”. And what does he see for new markets in the laundry industry? Yes, as I said, entrepreneurial and innovation ideas are constantly present in him, even though he has left the industry. "Right now I am thinking of the large clothing chains' offer to hand in their old clothes, such as jeans, sweaters and jackets to get the new garment, say, SEK 000 cheaper," he says. “These old clothes are not thrown away, but are passed on by the clothing chains to the needy so that the whole thing becomes part of their environmental profile. But of course these garments need to be washed before they are used. Here I see an opportunity… ”.
That said - it is important to keep up and be focused when Gunnar Andréen looks both backwards and forwards.