Investment in new laundry equips Swiss for future growth

  • Official launch of £6 million purpose-built commercial laundry in Papworth

Swiss Laundry has unveiled a new, purpose-built commercial laundry in Papworth, Cambridge. It follows a £6m investment by the family-run independent firm, as it realises its ambitions to create one of the most technically advanced and environmentally friendly commercial laundries in Europe.The business, which has a Cambridge heritage dating back to 1904, is the city’s largest commercial laundry and provides linen hire and laundry services to tourism, hospitality and University customers throughout the east of England.

Part of the Swiss Camplings group, and with sister business Camplings Linen based in Great Yarmouth, the combined group turnover in 2019 was £13m.  While the turnover for Cambridge based Swiss Laundry jumped to £5m in 2019, up from £4.5m in 2018.

The business has spent two years developing a purpose-built, 38,000 square foot laundry in Papworth.  Doubling the previous capacity of its former commercial laundry on Cherry Hinton Road, and introducing new systems, technology and equipment to significantly reduce impact on the environment, the new site has now been unveiled as the board sets its sights on future growth and long-term success.

At its peak, the Papworth laundry will have a capacity for washing, drying and pressing up to 500,000 individual pieces of linen, including bed sheets, towels and napkins, every week. Doubling what was previously possible.

Speaking at the launch which took place on 23 January, Mark Turvill, Swiss Laundry’s commercial director said: “We’re really proud of our roots in Cambridge, and while we needed larger, more modern premises, we wanted to remain close to the city.  Some of our employees have worked for us for more than 30 years, so it was important to find a new home where we could take them with us, offering long-term, secure employment.

“Our priority was also to upgrade and invest in the very latest technology, with the aim of minimising our impact on the environment. We’ve made a significant investment in new machines, which will dramatically reduce our water usage per kilogram washed, and, increase the amount of water we’re able to recycle and re-use. While the design and installation of a new hot water system, replacing a traditional boiler, will minimise our environmental impact further. We’re now able to control and direct heat to specific parts of the laundry, rather than heating the entire site, meaning less energy is wasted.”

Investment has also been ploughed into the latest technology to increase efficiency and reduce manual handling. A new gravity-powered sky-track is the real showpiece, automatically transporting up to 200 bags via a rail system, around the roof of the laundry. The rail system transports each piece of linen from wash to final press, with up to 50kg of linen contained in each blue or white bag. While the adoption of Cool ChemistryTM means a high quality finish is achieved when washing at cooler temperatures.

Mark Turvill adds; “We’re now fully operational at our larger, more efficient laundry and have never been in a better place to service new contracts and meet growing demand from our existing customers as we start the new year. The recently published 2019 Cambridgeshire Ltd report has proven the local food and drink sector is performing well, sitting in the top three for turnover, earnings and number of jobs. Last year, the sector turned over £2.6bn, and we’re now very well positioned to provide a reliable, quality service to these businesses.”

On 23 January, the chairman and directors of Swiss Laundry, Guy, Mark, James and Richard Turvill welcomed customers and business partners to the new laundry for the first time, giving guests a behind the scenes tour and insight into what happens at one of the UK’s most advanced commercial laundries.

Marina Turvill, former chairman, worked in the business throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s.  Her eldest son, Guy, is now chairman of the business and says she couldn’t be prouder of everything the family business has achieved.

“Since my late husband Keith first acquired shares in Swiss Laundry in the 1930’s to today, Swiss Laundry has been successful because the business has always been nurtured, with all family members and our much-valued staff giving it their total commitment.

I’m extremely proud of the world-class facility we see at Papworth today. It’s a real mark of achievement, and a symbol of all the hard work and dedication put into the business, over the years.”