Empty Central London offices are killing dry cleaning businesses
For many businesses, working from home has proven to be an effective way of ensuring their workforce’s well-being, whilst maintaining productivity during such an unprecedented time.
Now, although things are slowly approaching normality, many businesses seem to have adopted working from home indefinitely.
Small local businesses in city centres seem to have been most affected by this, due to the drastic decrease in footfall. This is particularly evident within the dry cleaning industry, where family-run businesses may soon be lost completely if things do not change quickly.
Prior to the pandemic, Central London accounted for 25% of our revenue – it now stands at less than 5%, despite good recoveries in most of London’s suburbs and internationally.
Our leading Central London cleaning centre used to process upwards of 1,000 garments each and every day. Now, this number has dropped between 150 and 200 per day, and the centre is forced to run with a skeleton staff.
A large proportion of this can be attributed to the significant decrease in office-wear as people no longer occupy the plethora of offices in Central London and continue to work from home.
To put this into perspective, we have seen an 80% decrease in the volume of suits and shirts processed across our entire dry cleaning network.
As a result, we’ve also had to adapt our popular offering of 10 shirts washed and pressed for £20 to now allow for any combination of t-shirts, polo shirts and shirts.
The lack of tourists also adds to the woes of dry cleaners in Central London.
We look after a number of 5 star properties in Central London and while some have opened their rooms, others are just operating their restaurants and bars. August is always the busiest month for the hotels but the revenue from them last month was almost nothing.
It will be very difficult for the Central London cleaning centres to continue operations if the workers do not return to the offices soon. The majority of the staff at our partner cleaning centres in Central London are currently furloughed and if the workers do not return to the City in the next month it will be very difficult for ours and other Central London cleaning centres to recover.
Nadir Shah, one of our partner dry cleaners, let us know his thoughts regarding the current climate for his business:
“It’s not been easy, for 5 years I worked night and day to build up the business in Central London. We were really starting to thrive and now we just have to make it through the year. All the other small businesses on Grays Inn Road are worried about the future as well.”