CHANGING WITH THE TIMES ‘Going from strength to strength’, doesn’t really do justice to the continuing success of this third-generation, familyowned, laundry business, located on the edge of the Lincolnshire Fens in the town from which the family took its name in the early 1930s. Originally founded as a domestic laundry business by the grandfather of the present chairman, Hedley Stroud, the Bourne business has stayed resolutely independent since its foundation. At the beginning of 2000, the Bourne business was effectively one third workwear rental through the joint venture company Brooks Bourne Services - and two thirds flatwork. A good proportion of the flatwork business came from the nationally negotiated agreements provided by the Brooks Franchise from national hotel accounts. However, the decision about the future course of the group was under serious discussion with various investment choices available to the company. The need for a new and larger site was becoming critical and the growth of the independent hotel parts of the business outside the so-called ‘nationals’ was demonstrating the value and popularity of the Bourne service quality. The choices were narrowing and the new site construction was committed, approved and completed in the shape of a new 30,000 square foot building as Phase 1 and the first machines installed from Kannegiesser in December 2001. The collapse of the Brooks Company, which came as a shock to many in the market in 2007, was not as dramatically problematic to Bourne as many presumed at that time. Under the developments led by Hedley Stroud and his colleague and managing director, David Johnson, the business had been considering independent developments for some time. The Brooks Bourne Garment Rental activities were sold on to Fenland Laundry and the involvement in the franchise with Brooks terminated with the closure of Brooks. Both bourne textile services laundry sites were in operation from late 2000 onwards. The new site concentrating on large flatwork pieces – sheets and duvet covers while the napery and towels were
processed at the original The Stroud family were premises three-quarters of a mile fortunate that their business was distant. Production in 2001 was able to capitalise on the talents of running at approximately Ernest Stroud and his son Basil 300,000/350,000 pieces per week as engineers and on the talents of at each location and more Stuart Stroud and his son Hedley importantly, in 2002 a wide as commercially astute ranging review of the future businessmen who consistently market and new machinery followed opportunities for investment possibilities open to commercial advance and security the company, was undertaken in by continual reinvestment in the conjunction with Kannegiesser. business. The commercial The second phase of the new relationship with Brooks and site development, bringing the through this franchise whole plant area up to something arrangement, with a large number close to 67,000 square feet, was of national hotel groups, built on a four and a half acre site provided the growth in revenue and was finished in 2007. Up to which brought forward the this stage the plants had been financial resources to support the operating a 24 hour - six day major investment in the Bourne work schedule but from early plant as it exists today. 2008 operations at the enlarged The Stroud family was also new site were expanded to a 24/7 fortunate in the simple fact that regime, with Stuart Stroud was a s c h e d u l e d devoted cricket lover maintenance set for and supporter of Sundays which also Bourne Cricket includes general Club. Through this housekeeping and connection he such production as chanced across the is needed for the schoolboy talent and Monday routes. enthusiasm of David With the transfer Johnson, then still at of garment rental to Bourne Grammar Fenland, the School. The concentration on New livery, new fleet d e d i c a t e d large scale flatwork and new Bourne enthusiasm was processing became family member – seen, by Stuart the priority for ‘Fluffy’. One of 28 Stroud as a good everyone in the trucks travelling the guide to a successful Bourne team. The highways and future life as a operating area was byways of eastern Bourne Group extended to stretch England delivering employee and so a as far north as Leeds the Bourne Service – lifelong ‘innings’ at and in the south, to 24/7 the local laundry the outskirts of was launched. London. The east – Via various west coverage was from the industry courses and many long Lincolnshire/Norfolk coast to hours studying, including time parts of the West Midlands and spent at Hendon at the British most major hotels became open Laundry Research Association to the quality offerings made by site, David Johnson learnt his Bourne to the market. Thus the trade and through his applied second fiddle role previously skills, eventually in tandem with operated within the restrictions of those of Stuart Stroud’s son commercial activities under the Hedley, by then a qualified Brooks franchise, disappeared accountant, the nucleus of the overnight and released Bourne to Bourne management team was make serious inroads into the created. hotel market in the new enlarged Now, with the addition of service area. Richard Clark as operations That concentration of effort director, in charge of production resulted in a weekday processing and processing as well as of requirement averaging 180,000 customer service, together with pieces per day. In effect this David Bower as financial translates as one million pieces director, the team for the per week, processed throughout immediate future is complete. the year with the traditional ‘flat The Bourne ethos is simple to spots’ in January and early express - as David Johnson does February reflecting exactly, the when he states: “We absolutely hotel work processing profile. believe in communication and
Founders and directors of Bourne Textiles. Hanging: (l to r) Ernest Stroud, founder 1932, Basil Stroud (son), Stuart Stroud (son). Standing: (l to r) Richard Clark, operations director, Hedley Stroud, chairman, (son of Stuart Stroud), David Bower, financial director, David Johnson, managing director
18 LCT October 2008
The new four-station feeder EMQ was installed in one day and increased production by 23,000 units in the first week of operation sharing our knowledge and we extend this in appropriate degrees to our customers and suppliers. They are, when all is said and done, a very significant part of our team and of our joint success.” The cessation of the Brooks’ generated business in 2007 meant that all territorial restrictions to trading areas disappeared. It also meant that new accounts had to be opened and new commercial relationships formed with clients who had previously been processing clients contracted via Brooks. This was a challenging time for Bourne as numerous competitors sought to expand their range by filling the ‘gap’ where Brooks’ franchisees had traded. However, the quality of the Bourne’s service to all its customers won the day and an increasing volume of business was secured from widening the geographical base of operation. Now operating 32 delivery and collection routes in the east of England, serviced by 28 liveried trucks and operating as determined by the customer, on 24/7 timings, the Bourne service reach is a lesson to all in doing what the customer wants and doing it well. David Johnson again: “We are driven by our quality and driven by the needs of our hotel customers for a very reliable service. Doing an average million pieces per week means that there will never be perfection in all things. But what we do promise is that we will deliver the quantity which you expect on the day you expected it and at the time which you have requested. The quality level is our joint responsibility and it is for you to determine your own standards, which we will do our best to adhere to. If we don’t adhere to them, then you can look for service elsewhere.” This is a refreshingly powerful statement and one which probably covers the growth expectations of the business into the future. This growth will come from the changing shape of the hotel market with the pronounced shift to improved quality and a serious growth in capacity exhibited by the budget hotel sector, where remarkable occupancy figures are consistently delivered and growth appears to be a well-founded risk and a great opportunity. Johnson continues: “The
switch of business in hotels to the weekend deals and offers has made a real difference to our processing demands and we have every confidence that this will become a permanent feature of the long-term future of the business. Our 24/7 business model matches exactly the demands of our customers for service delivery. We have not yet seen a significant tightening of our market beyond what we expected.” Strength of family and of the extended bourne textile services management team is of extreme importance to the Bourne story; equally important is the supplier role in that history. To see the effect of this, the new plant at Bourne graphically demonstrates how important it is to construct longterm trading relationships with key suppliers. Our first impression of the plant was one of overwhelming, three-dimensional, complexity. This laundry does not work solely on the ground, a major part of its workflow sequence is ‘in the air’ - and on three levels above the washer and ironer lines, which take up more than one third of the square footage of the plant. We won’t try and describe in close detail the machinery in operation in this new facility; that would be a task only capable of fulfilment by the Bourne directors and the team from Kannegiesser who thought the whole thing out. We were visitors to a new world of automated excellence in volume processing and the scale was overwhelming. What we do say is this – if you want to see the future of flatwork processing and the way that it can be and is delivered, on a large scale, then
try very hard to get an invitation to see this remarkable plant. As an example: the fourth Kannegiesser EMQ feeder to be purchased was delivered on Friday 22 August 2008. The machine was installed and tested during Saturday and partial production was initialised on Sunday 24 August. By the end of the first week more than 23,000 more units were being processed than previously achieved through the three station feeder. This we believe is not an untypical experience from many Kannegiesser users around the world. High tech, equals high production with high quality. High quality means better corporate financial performance and – of course - better service delivery; in fact exactly like bourne t ex t i l e services delivery! One of the most interesting pieces of integrated automation at Bourne was the extraordinary Supertrack monorail storage and distribution installation. Reaching to the full height of the building, the sinuous course for the 75kg bags wound around far above our heads until placed at their designated places in the processing sequence. Silently gliding through the points and sidings of this flatwork marshalling yard in the sky, this was confirmation – if such were needed – that gravity is a great aid to fuel-efficient miles and that, if you use the ‘free’ height available in a well-designed, modern plant, then everything is possible. This surely is a benchmark Supertrack installation and a credit to the sophistication of those who designed it. The Kannegiesser/ bourne t ex t i l e services relationship has
Supertrack switching point – attached to roof beam
bourne textile services proves that it’s possible for a family business to thrive in the 21st century market. Irving Scott reports
This is as high as you can get at Bourne Textiles; the incline starts here and goes down – to the right!
The ‘Stables’ - goods inwards receiving area – colour coded for content and route developed over many years. David Johnson and his colleagues have visited sites in Europe and the Kannegiesser head office in Vlotho, Germany, many times. He comments: “We have complete confidence in the Kannegiesser UK team in Banbury and over the years we have jointly developed our automation by laundry combining their comprehensive
machinery innovations with our own ambitions for this new plant. We have had a wonderful working relationship with Kannegiesser, working together as a team and we think that the results are amply demonstrated here in Bourne. “For example, the PowerTrans tunnel washer was shown to us in Vlotho in 2000, the ideas were sensible and the performance and wash
economy were leading edge. We now have three of these washers on a two-minute cycle with 75kg loads. Similarly, we installed three, Kannegiesser PowerPress, 56 bar, turbo version, presses to take the moisture out of product from the tunnels. These turbo presses attain the maximum pressure in less than 30 seconds, therefore more moisture is expelled in the
cycle time and there is a higher energy saving in the dryers as a result. There is reduced water consumption from the tunnels too, and this is an important saving in running costs. “In the towel folding section we adopted a ‘total delivery system’ approach, whereby the dried towels are transported from the Kannegiesser dryers by a Supertrack monorail system to
the folding machine operators via conveyors exactly where they require them. We have therefore reduced manual handling and improved ease of operation, giving more productive and consistent output. The towel folders automatically sort the towels into four categories and when folded, they are transported to the central collection area to await despatch.”
So there it is - a truly outstanding flatwork laundry installation, well managed by a knowledgeable team from within the company and ably assisted in concept and execution by their chosen machinery and chemical suppliers. An installation, which, in our view, declares proudly that laundry is a great profession and that this is a happy and profitable business.
October 2008 LCT 19
Published on Dec 28, 2011
Newlivery,newfleet andnewBourne familymember– ‘Fluffy’.Oneof28 truckstravellingthe highwaysand bywaysofeastern Englanddelivering theBourneSe...