Afonwen Laundry

Origins

The business has grown dramatically from humble beginnings. The Company was founded in 1935 by William George, brother of David Lloyd George, the former British Minister, together with two other business partners, one of whom was the local preacher. The laundry expanded through the Second World War supplying a range of military camps throughout Gwynedd and Anglesey and then evolved into focusing on domestic laundry service to houses in Gwynedd throughout the 1950s and 1960s. In the late 1970s the business was purchased by Paul Woolfenden, who remains actively involved in the running of the business, although its Managing Director is now his son Mark, who joined the company eight years ago.

Success Factor

The company has invested over £13m in building two of the most operationally efficient laundries in the United Kingdom which can now process over 1.4 million items of linen every week, a great deal of laundry by anyone’s standards! Afonwen has also built strong relationships with its customers and expanded its business on the back of rapid expansion in the hotel market, focusing on the fastest growing segment in the hotel sector - the budget hotel sector – and creating capacity to support the substantial growth seen in new hotel openings. Finally, Afonwen has a strong reputation for delivering a high quality and reliable service which out performs many of the more traditional operators in its sector who have not taken on the substantial investment required to deliver a high quality service.

The Future

Having just completed its further expansion in Cardiff, Afonwen is now well positioned and already seeing considerable interest from a number of new hotel openings in the London and South East England market in the run up to the 2012 Olympics. The company is anticipating a period of consolidation and driving through further changes within the business to ensure it maintains its efficiency as well as seeking to provide enhanced value and improved service to customers through greater use of technology. Afonwen sees very strong growth opportunities, especially in the South where there is a significant lack of capacity within its industry to meet the demand of new hotel openings planned despite the current economic outlook. Having grown very quickly, it is inevitable and prudent to see a degree of slowing of growth before the company considers its next move for future growth, working in partnership with its key customers. The challenge the company will face is where to expand next given the strong demand for its service throughout the UK.