Could the laundry business be for you? There’s still a market for it, and technology could reinvent the industry altogether, making it more attractive to and convenient for customers. Below are some laundry franchise options available in the UK.
It’s been 71 years since the first laundromat – or launderette, in the UK – opened in London. A place for customers to wash and dry their laundry, it was an enormously popular business. In the early 1980s, there were 12,500 launderette businesses across the UK, according to the National Association of the Launderette Industry (NALI).
Over the years, as washing machines became cheaper, the number of local launderettes has dropped to just 3,000. Statista reports that, today, 98% of households own a washing machine, up from 65% in 1970.
Are launderettes a good investment?
There’s still a viable market for launderettes, however. From low-income households to tourists, students and businesses like restaurants or hairdressing salons, many don’t have an on-site laundry service.
Launderettes, with their larger machines, are handy for anyone needing to wash items that don’t fit, or would take too long to wash, in standard machines – like horse blankets or large amounts of bedding. Winter, in particular, is a popular season for business, since many people don’t have tumble dryers, and hanging clothes to dry indoors can be a nuisance.
With the uptake of technology, however, there is also a bet on launderettes to make a large-scale comeback.
Technology is reinventing industries from financial services to healthcare. Ed Ralf, CEO of Laundrapp, an online laundry service, believes laundry is ripe for disruption too.
“The smartphone has become a remote control for our lives. Laundry I believe is the next service to be revolutionised by the digital opportunity. Slowly we’re seeing signs of people changing their habits and using services such as Laundrapp, much in the same way Deliveroo or Uber grew and equally disrupted consumer habit around their respective markets.”
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Can a laundry business go online?
Any business can go online – including laundry. Location used to be the most important factor for laundromat success, but digital services are changing that. Services like Laundrapp allow users to book a cleaning online; then have their laundry collected from their home, cleaned, ironed, folded and returned to their door.
Laundrapp licenses its logistics technology to major laundry franchises across the UK – and is already active in 100 cities.
It’s not the only service of its kind either. Laundryheap, a London-headquartered laundry-on-demand startup, offers the same online service, but with a 24-hour turnaround at no extra cost. It does this by partnering with facilities that operate overnight, and managing its own fleet.
As lives get busier, homes get smaller, and more households depend on two incomes, time-poor customers could very well return to the launderette – especially if it’s convenient.
Laundry franchise options in the UK
If you’re considering going into the launderette business, here’s three options to consider.
1. Speed Queen
Since its launch in the US, Speed Queen has seen over 16,000 laundromat stores opened in 465 cities. The business focuses on offering customers a modern self-service experience, equipping its stores with on-site Wi-Fi, relax areas, play zones, vending machines and the ability to do 20kg of professional standard washing in an hour. This, it reports, has helped create its 94.8% store success rate in the US, with 20-35% average return on investment.
Already a well-known and trusted brand of machine in the UK, Speed Queen started offering launderette franchises locally in 2016. The expansion is part of the company’s plan to open 1,500 branded stores across Europe – and it just recently opened its 700th store in Italy.
2. The Martinizing Dry Cleaning Franchise
New to the UK, arriving in 2018, The Martinizing Dry Cleaning Franchise offers in-store and mobile locker laundry services. With the locker service, franchisees can select their route delivery area, and customers can then drop off and collect their laundry at lockers at a convenient time.
Originally founded in the US in the 1940s, this franchise is now exploring technology to handle home deliveries locally. It aims to increase its appeal to more affluent and upscale customers by promoting itself as the 'greener cleaner’, using environmentally friendly methods and solvents.
Founded in Spain in 1996, Pressto is a dry cleaning and laundry service franchise, which has expanded to 538 stores in over 25 countries. Pressto prides itself on providing customers with a ‘cleaning boutique’ experience, offering not just garment care; but repair, alteration and cleaning of bags, accessories and shoes. It also offers a home delivery service through its online app.
Pressto is looking to expand across the UK, so there are opportunities for both standalone franchise territories available, as well as master franchises.
Is a laundry franchise for you?
There are many opportunities for laundry franchises in the UK. While they can be expensive to start up due to the equipment involved, they are one of the most resilient businesses. During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, launderettes were considered essential businesses, allowed to stay open and keep operating.
Self-service laundromats are among the most undemanding businesses; just one or two people can comfortably run them. Launderettes also enjoy the benefit of repeat customers – 80% of Laundryheap’s customers are returning ones, says its founder, saving them the need to recruit new customers all the time.
Other cleaning franchises in the UK
Even though we don't have any laundromat franchise opportunities on Point Franchise, there are many other cleaning franchises available. Laundry aside, people are always looking for help easing household chores, and the UK domestic cleaning market is estimated to be worth over £2.86 billion.
First established as a home cleaning service in 1997, Daily Poppins has grown in size and profitability over lthe years.
- Becoming a Daily Poppins franchisee: Consider joining this franchise if you want to offer a range of different services, including intensive carpet and floor cleaning, as well as window and oven cleaning.
- How much you need to invest: As little as £7,000
- What you get for your investment: Extensive training and mentoring, an iPad with tailored software, a custom-made webpage and a cloud-based management system. The package also comes with a minimum of 30,000 marketing flyers to help you advertise in your local area.
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Merry Maids has been based in the UK for over 35 years, and today more than 100 franchisees operate across the country. Merry Maids prides itself on giving its customers exceptional service by making sure each franchisee has all the support, guidance and training they need to build a successful business.
- Becoming a Merry Maids franchisee: This franchise is on the lookout for entrepreneurs with good business judgement, great people skills and the motivation to push a business forward.
- How much you need to invest: The total investment is £19,995 plus VAT. Funding support is available for the right candidates and many high street banks are willing to lend up to 70% of the franchise fee if you meet their criteria. That means you could get started for just £6,000.
- What you get for your investment: Franchisees can expect a comprehensive franchise package. It includes training and ongoing support, marketing material (digital and physical), branded uniforms, products and equipment for cleaning teams, as well as financial management support.
If the cleaning industry is one that interests you, see what else is available on our UK Franchise Directory.
Alice Tuffery, Point Franchise ©