The inimitable Jeeves – providing the best27 January 2022
NewGen is working with Jeeves International to open a state-of-the-art central garment processing unit in Saudi Arabia during the pandemic. Kathy Bowry reports
NewGen, a UK-based specialist laundry consultancy company, was employed by Will Lankston, director of Jeeves International, to support the setup of their new franchise partner in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. NewGen acted as technical consultants throughout the project which included building and designing a new central processing unit (CPU) with attached administration offices totalling 1,900m2 in Saudi’s capital city, Riyadh.
The scope of the project included preparing a full business plan, a functional financial model, detailed layout plans for all the plant and equipment, building specification documentation, preparing and scoring tenders to equipment suppliers, overseeing the delivery, installation and commissioning of the new plant and equipment, preparing standard operating procedures (SOPs), recruiting the senior operations team and training the new colleagues on the use of the equipment to the industry-leading standards that Jeeves’ brand demands.
Robert Stevens, director of NewGen said: “We were there to provide the laundry and drycleaning knowledge that is so critical throughout such a project. Our experience over hundreds of projects helps us to support the local team in all aspects and ensure that they end up with a fully functional business that has been delivered to the required specification – so many projects in the region simply don’t fully deliver due to a lack of on the ground expertise.”
Due to the Covid pandemic, the project had to switch from in-person supervision to remote management by the NewGen team until it was finally allowed to enter Saudi Arabia again in late April 2021.
Once on the ground, the NewGen project team was asked by the client to oversee the building of the premises. This involved Iain Weir, NewGen’s technical director, spending around 14 weeks in Riyadh, visiting the site daily to ensure that the building was being prepared as expected by the client and that the installation of the plant and equipment was carried out to the highest possible standards.
‘There are moments, Jeeves, when one asks oneself, do trousers matter?’
‘The mood will pass, sir’
PG Wodehouse, The Code of the Woosters
Water and utility costs were very much a consideration when preparing the plant and equipment tender as all the Jeeves businesses actively work to minimise their environmental impact where possible.
Weir explains: “Having initially identified seven laundry and drycleaning equipment suppliers in the region, we put them through a full tender process. The equipment was chosen based on what the chosen distributor was able to supply.”
World Trade Services (WTS) was chosen and supplied the CPU with Sankosha, Sidi and Union equipment as well as a Jensen ironer. “We have also installed two Metalprogetti conveyors, one is a delivery conveyor and the other an assembly conveyor. Both are designed to improve productivity and to remove potential piecing up (assembly) mistakes,” says Weir. The delivery conveyor removes the need for any colleague to walk to a separate spotting, forming or finishing station to return or move a garment to that location.
The delivery conveyor takes garments from any spotting, forming or finishing station directly to any other station as required including the assembly conveyor.
The assembly conveyor automatically assembles the orders once complete and then unloads them to two delivery arms ready for bagging.
A sister company of WTS, Alka Boilers, a local boiler maker with a strong reputation was also brought onboard.
Part of the tender requirement was that the supplier had to carry spare parts in stock in Riyadh and be able to provide on-site engineering support within a realistic time frame, typically, late same day or next day. “For detergents and solvents, the decision was also made based upon a tender process and the kind of technical support available locally. “We decided to use both Perchloroethylene and Hydrocarbon cleaning solvents as both these are readily available and are in common use, as well as wetcleaning detergents through Concorde Textile Products as they have supplied Electrolux so we are familiar with them. They were also recommended by Ipso for use with their SoftWash washers,” says Weir.
‘It is undoubtedly the best garment care facility that I have ever seen to date’
Will Lankston, global director, Jeeves of Belgravia
The business is anticipating starting the operation with 11 production colleagues, including an operations manager and two supervisors. There will of course be additional retail colleagues for the three stores that are expected to open to start with, as well as an administration team in the on-site offices.
As for future expansion, that is built in, according to Weir, who says: “The CPU is designed to be able to process up to approximately 5,000 pieces per week, but this can be increased if a two shift operation is implemented. All the required services have already been installed for expanding - the washers, dryers and finishing equipment. There is also ample floor space to expand into as a separate mezzanine has already been installed.
However, Weir says that attracting labour for the garment care business can be challenging, particularly during Covid, due to travel restrictions from certain countries. While admin and retail colleagues are recruited locally, the production staff tend to be migrant labour from a wide range of countries including India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nigeria and elsewhere.
“We have recruited colleagues with existing drycleaning and laundry processing skills and will be carrying out extensive on-site training to bring them up to the required Jeeves standard,” says Weir. That standard is high and the term ‘garment care facility’, simply indicates that this is the company’s primary core business. There is a lot more to it as Jeeves businesses are not simply drycleaners or launderers as they process everything from a pair of socks to a one-off couture gown, and can offer a wide range of additional services including; signature shirt service, repairs and alterations, wedding attire, leather, suede and fur, home textiles, handbag and shoe cleaning, and carpet and curtain cleaning. Jeeves is renowned as a premium brand with competitive pricing.
Following a recent inspection visit by the client’s senior management team including Will Lankston, global director of Jeeves of Belgravia, the site was finally handed over to the client in the third week of October 2021. Commenting on the premises after his visit, Lankston said: “It is undoubtedly the best garment care facility that I have ever seen to date.”
NewGen says it has been privileged to work on such a prestigious project and will be back on the ground from January through to March training the operational team and implementing the stringent SOP that a Jeeves site requires. Weir adds: “You can have the best facility, the best equipment, and they have - but if the procedures and training are not of an equal standard the business will still struggle and I am delighted to be able to ensure this does not happen.”
NewGen has been working to support Jeeves International franchises throughout the world over the past five years, but this is the first brand new franchise partner for over 10 years.
Lankston adds: “I hope it will be the first of many over the next few years with several new enquiries currently being analysed.”