24 Pesula: Laundry chain grows and set its sights on overseas markets

5/11/2016
24 Pesula (24 Laundromat) offers a solution to a simple problem – clean clothes and fabrics when it best suits the customer.

This self-service chain machine-washes and dries rugs, bed linen, down quilts and everything in between. 24 Pesula is however more than a laundry business: it has revolutionised the concept based on the latest technological and digital solutions.

24 Pesula is a family firm which was established in Kokkola, Finland, by the three Nevala brothers in 1999. They had the idea of founding a business – in addition to their day jobs – to finance their motorsports hobby. Following a long, 15-year start-up phase, the company began to grow strongly and nine people now have a stake in it. 24 Pesula currently has eight laundromats, which are mainly located in shopping centres in the Helsinki, Pirkanmaa and Kokkola regions.

"In Finland, almost every home has a small '24 Laundromat' but, in the case of home textiles, most domestic washing machines don't offer the quality of wash or capacity needed – that's where we come in," says CEO Asko Nevala, describing his market.

"Our customers mainly consist of women of 30–60 years of age, who wash and dry rugs and bed linen in our laundromats. People who are on the move or living alone are a growing group of customers; they wash and dry their basic laundry."

Creators of a new culture

Aside from a small number of laundries in Helsinki, Finland has few self-service laundries. For Nevala, the greatest challenge lies in introducing people to this new, unmanned service model and in the current culture of low-cost and disposable goods.

"The self-service laundry culture familiar elsewhere in Europe has never really arrived in Finland. People tend to throw out even new mats once they get dirty, due to the lack of sufficiently simple, quick and low cost solutions for washing them. We definitely want to change this by providing the most convenient and effective way of making products last longer," says Nevala.

The company is highly domestic in focus. It has designed its own lockable drying lockers with extensible racks, as well as washing-machine control and telephone-payment systems, all of which are made in Finland. The washing machines themselves are manufactured in Catalonia, Spain. The company has engaged in long-term product development and is due to announce new washing and drying innovations in time for this summer.

Aiming abroad

"The main reason for our fast growth is our talented owners and the willingness of everyone to pitch in. The firm really took off only in 2014, when we were considering the company's future. We received a business development loan and, above all, guidance from Tekes. In the same year, we hired two full-time owner-employees. In 2015, we further expanded our ownership base with two external business professionals. Our turnover grew by over 40 percent last year."

Tekes funding has been of huge benefit to applicants seeking early-stage growth. Development projects focus on improving existing processes and developing new service models for domestic and international markets.

Overseas expansion is part of the plan. A survey performed in 2014 suggests that there are potential markets in Russia, the Baltic States and the United Kingdom. The focus is on a market survey of the UK right now.

"According to our information, the United Kingdom is currently undergoing a transition in which old laundry owners are entering retirement; often without a successor willing to invest in new machines. The local laundry culture is mainly based on service-based laundries. Self-service launderettes are less common and, unlike the 24 Pesula concept, are not automated. In the UK, we are seeking locations in grocery outlets, so that customers can do their laundry while shopping. The housing stock there still makes it challenging to do basic laundry."

Not forgetting digitalisation

Laundries too should embrace digitalisation, which has made businesses in the sector much easier to run. All offices and facilities can be monitored and almost entirely controlled using a mobile device. Nine out of ten problems can be solved right away, remotely.

"It has been shown that the digitalisation and automation of marketing metrics and the development of tools for controlling laundry machines makes financial sense and is set to continue," says Asko Nevala.

For further information, please contact

Asko Nevala
CEO
24 Pesula
Tel. +358 44 362 2222
asko.nevala (at) pesula.fi

Picture: 24 Pesula

Kaj Nordgren
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