BEIJING, China — While many see the United States as a mature market for laundry and drycleaning services, China’s professional textile care industry is just starting to learn what’s possible in process automation, energy-saving equipment and enviro-friendly products.
China’s continued economic growth, improving living standards, and thriving tourism are generating a huge demand for sophisticated laundry and drycleaning systems, says Messe Frankfurt, organizer of the Texcare exhibitions.
“Texcare Asia has established itself as an international platform for professional textile care in the region,” says Wang Xueren, secretary general, Beijing Laundry & Drycleaning Industry Association. “China’s professional textile care industry is still new, so the sector’s growth potential is huge.”
This business climate made October’s Texcare Asia an event popular with the region’s laundry managers and domestic/foreign exhibitors alike. Attendance during the three-day fair was reported to be 5,900, up slightly from the 5,785 who attended the event two years ago in Shanghai.
Abdul Hamee, maintenance manager for the Al-Jabr Trading Co., attended his first Texcare Asia and was impressed by the “range of products featured by local manufacturers at competitive prices.”
“Operating nine laundry plants and 450 commercial outlets in Saudi Arabia, we came here specifically for laundry and pressing work equipment and have placed a sizable order ... for flatwork ironers, hot heads, steamers and trouser guards.”
“I came here to learn more about the latest industry developments and trends and found energy-saving products to be very popular,” says David Yang, laundry manager for the Holiday Inn Chang An West Beijing. “I was very interested in the concept of recycling bathroom towels, and will be reporting back on this.”
Factor in the Texcare Forum Asia, a two-day program featuring presentations from textile care experts hailing from Asia, Europe and North America, and information-hungry attendees were treated to an educational feast.
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Exhibitors from 17 countries and regions — 133 companies and associations — were represented in Hall 8 of the China International Exhibition Centre. The show floor covered roughly 10,000 square meters (32,808 square feet), which is roughly one-sixth the size of the Clean Show.
Texcare’s rectangular layout made it easy for visitors to find an exhibitor, whether they occupied one of the large booths in the center of the hall or one of the small booths along the outer boundaries.
While Asia’s previous International Trade Fair for Modern Textile Care opened to pomp and circumstance in Shanghai, Beijing’s opening was less formal. Association leaders and show sponsors welcomed special guests during a private briefing, before leading them on a VIP tour where they visited booths, greeted exhibitors and posed for photos.
Visitor delegations from Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, the Netherlands, Singapore, Sweden and Turkey attended by virtue of the show’s support among many international trade associations.
Everyone who attended Texcare Asia entered through metal detectors. Uniformed security officers patrolled the floor and were positioned at entrances/exits. Many attendees were armed with cameras — camera phones, digital cameras and even handheld camcorders — and it was common to see visitors photographing or taping product demonstrations and equipment in operation.
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Exhibitors praised the number and caliber of visitors who attended, according to Messe Frankfurt. More than 75% reported making sales at Texcare, more than 80% achieved objectives, and more than 95% met their targeted visitor groups, the show’s organizer said.
Alliance Laundry Systems, maker of laundry equipment under the UniMac, IPSO, Speed Queen, Cissell and Huebsch brands, had a large booth featuring representative models of equipment from every brand. “I like the fact that it does not stay in just one city, but moves around, so you can get a better idea of other textile care markets,” says Mike Schoeb, Alliance Laundry president, of the show’s format.
Tingue, Brown & Co. opened a fully stocked warehouse for its flatwork ironer supplies and accessories in Hong Kong in early 2009, so Texcare Asia was an opportunity to alert its customers and distributors throughout Asia about this potentially cost-saving resource, according to Export Director Dan Koebel.
“This is a growth market,” says Koebel, whose company shared a booth with two others, United Machines and D&S Exports. “That’s why we’re putting such an emphasis on it.”
The challenge has been demonstrating the value of ironer felts, guide tapes, chest/bed lubricants and other must-have supplies to a customer base that’s largely focused on machinery at this stage of their market’s development, he says.
“This is the best fair we’ve participated in,” says Hu Jindi, general manager of Shanghai Weishi Machinery Co., a maker of finishing equipment for laundry and drycleaning. “The contracts and contacts made have exceeded our expectations. We’ve been kept constantly busy over the fair period, meeting one serious buyer after another. I think as a result of this, we will have expanded our presence not only in Japan, but also in Belgium, Germany, Portugal and the U.S.”
Hoffman/New Yorker found the show’s timing to its liking, as it introduced its Slim-Line drycleaning and laundry presses and a single-buck shirt-pressing system to the Asian market. All had been introduced stateside at this summer’s Clean Show.
“We’ve been pleasantly surprised (by the response),” says Thomas Bolan Jr., sales manager. “When you tell them that your main lines are completely new or redesigned, that gets their attention.”
Bolan sees great potential for these products in China in serving an expanding hospitality industry and a growing middle class with an increasing need for private drycleaning services. The new products have given the company’s Asian distributors “some ammunition” with which to sell against its competitors, he adds.
While it has sent representatives to Texcare Asia previously, Maytag Commercial Laundry chose to exhibit for the first time this year to inform distributors serving this part of the world of new products on the horizon, and to see China’s emerging manufacturing base up close, says Nick Koukourakis, senior category manager for Global Commercial Laundry at Whirlpool Corp., Maytag’s parent company.
“I would say that most Western exhibitors are keeping an eye on the China market,” adds Koukourakis, who says most interest in Maytag products at the show came from the on-premise laundry segment.
Fred Schwarzmann Jr., president of A.L. Wilson Co., a provider of stain removers for the laundry and drycleaning industries, says the show met his expectations. His company’s products have been represented in China for many years, but he felt it important to exhibit for the first time to meet personally with this region’s dealers. He also introduced EasyGo, a cleaning aid for use in removing ground-in soil and stains when drycleaning with hydrocarbon or perc.
Hong Kong-based Castic SMP displayed its wide range of equipment manufactured in Asia under license, including Pellerin Milnor washer-extractors, Multimatic and Secomatic drycleaning machines, and Secomatic tumbler dryers. Director Jason Gerling says Multimatic-brand machines sold in the United States are manufactured in Castic’s factory north of Hong Kong.
Interest in Milnor’s equipment in the Far East has grown significantly in the past two years, according to Gerling, who says its X-Series line of washer-extractors is a top choice of many five-star international hotels.
Texcare Asia will return in autumn 2011 at a location yet to be determined.