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Berendsen invests in transforming Wakefield plant

Published 7th Apr 2014 by Rebecca Walker

As part of a multi-million pound investment member Berendsen has transformed production at its Wakefield laundry, the modernised plant was officially opened by Her Majesty’s Deputy Lieutenant Stan Hardy.

The event was organised by the plant’s general manager Sarah Reid and attended by key customers, local dignitaries, TSA, and representatives of the Berendsen organisation including CEO Peter Ventress, Managing Director of work wear Peter Havéus, UK Country Manager Steve McNiven and Operations Director Chris Gillard. 

The modernisation has taken just under a year and introduces Berendsen’s CL2000 concept, used widely in its European operations. Production is organised vertically, in small. multi-skilled, self-managed teams rather than in the traditional arrangement where each employee works at a single dedicated task. 

The new arrangement is already in place at the Rainhill laundry and this experience has been used in training the Wakefield staff, who have readily accepted the approach and are gaining confidence in their newly acquired skills. The Wakefield plant mainly handles work wear for industrial businesses and also mats and roller towels. 

There are now four separate, ergonomically designed production areas, each equipped with three main washer-extractors, three small machines and three dryers and staffed by a team of four. Each team is dedicated to specific work from specific customers and the work is delivered each week by the same driver and is responsible for scanning the garments into the system and for folding the processed work while warm to avoid creasing. The team will also identify repairs and carry these out in line, is authorised to decide when garments can no longer be repaired and is responsible for replacing such items, either from stock or by ordering. 

Sarah Reid, general manager, said that as an accredited investor in people, Berendsen has welcomed this way of working, which has given production staff more involvement with their work, taught them more skills and improved the service for customers. She recognised the challenge the staff had faced in adopting the concept. Some team members had previously worked on the same machine for many years but were successfully adapting, learning a range of skills and gaining confidence in managing the team and making decisions. 

CEO Peter Ventress congratulated the design team on the success of the project and said that Berendsen was delighted to be investing in innovation that would bring improvements in the working environment and in service for customers. Berendsen believes in doing the right thing in the right way and this philosophy applied also to relations with the local community. As one example, the laundry has provided work experience for pupils at Kettlethorpe School and the school’s swing band played at the opening. 

Her Majesty’s Deputy Lieutenant Major Stan Hardy unveiled the plaque marking the plant opening. He said that as the Queen’s representative in West Yorkshire he saw many wonderful developments and “opening this superb facility was a great pleasure.”

Having worked in engineering, he appreciated the thought behind the decision to invest and he saw such investment as a barometer of the economy as it showed Berendsen’s confidence in its business, in what the plant was doing and in how it was doing it. He believed that Berendsen’s ethos was based on the saying: “You cannot inspect quality into a product. Quality comes from the people who work there”. Berendsen is a brand to be proud of, it invests locally and he congratulated all involved on the transformation of the plant and on continuing to work under difficult conditions while it was taking place.

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