LAUNDRY service provider WeClean plans to acquire more laundry stores as part of its expansion initiative, which includes opening branches outside Metro Manila, a company official said

“At WeClean, we are targeting to acquire 100 laundries before the year ends so we are hiring more branch personnel, we offer minimum wage and pay all the mandatory benefits as we want them to feel happy and proud of working with us,” WeClean Head of Strategy Alejandro Gonzalez said in an e-mail interview.

“We are focused on opening up some new branches from scratch to apply all the knowledge we have accumulated during the last years so we can allocate the capital we raised faster and with lower risk,” he added.

The laundry provider is also looking to expand outside Metro Manila by next year, as well as out of the country in the future.

“We have already played the field in El Nido and Davao and we would like to go abroad to a Southeast Asian country,” he added.

WeClean is the first player of non-franchising laundromats in Metro Manila with 64 branches.

“We provide professional and good quality services at the lowest possible cost in clean and spacious locations,” Mr. Gonzalez said.

“The main idea is to provide this professionalized service to people who cannot afford to have a washing machine in-house and to become an essential activity into a customer rewarding experience,” he added.

During the pandemic, Mr. Gonzalez said the company experienced a decrease in revenues, which prompted it to adapt to the situation by offering courier services, among other innovations.

“As with every other business, we have experienced big changes due to the pandemic. Being a cleaning activity, it required additional effort to adapt our shops and services to the health measures we were forced to put into practice,” he said.

“We came up with the idea to start developing pickup and delivery services. We had already thought about it, but we felt it was a compelling part of the business at that moment,” he added.

The firm tapped different information technology companies and developers to design its app, which is soon to be released.

“We have continued to work on this aspect. Recently, we have become the first laundry business available in Grab, the delivery app, since we truly believe this is the general shift in the demand we are going to see in the upcoming months and years,” he added.

Mr. Gonzalez said that the laundry business in the Philippines is “scattered” as it is mainly run by small owners who have two to three shops at most. 

“It is a price-based competition market where everyone tries to be cost-efficient. Nevertheless, we are facing increases in utilities and supplies prices, so we expect to transfer it into final prices,” he said.

“The laundry business is a highly fragmented one, so we look for single spots at residential areas with a lot of traffic such as those within distance from high-rise condominiums or barangays populated by lower-middle and middle-income class,” he added.

Three years into the pandemic and amid eased mobility restrictions, Mr. Gonzalez said that the company is slowly returning to its pre-pandemic performance.

“We have seen after the elections and with the rainy season trying to settle down, the revenues are getting closer to the pre-pandemic situation, although there is still a long way to go,” he said.

“In general, a growing household consumption on the back of a burgeoning middle class will boost demand for laundry services, that is how we intend to keep on growing the business and become a giant,” he added. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson