With an industry turnover estimated at £4.7bn in 2011*, the UK cleaning industry is one to be reckoned with, at twice the size of the £2.9bn marine industry (Office of National Statistics, 2012).
“The cleaning industry is still a really busy industry regardless of the current downturn. Our introductory cleaning business has doubled in size over the past couple of years despite these hard times,” says June George of Dolly Char in Fife.
This report gives a brief review of the UK cleaning industry based on data published in various industry sources and on the Franchise Direct UK website. It will also profile several cleaning franchises that are on offer.
The UK Cleaning Industry: An Overview
Whether it's carpet cleaning, industrial waste disposal, home or office cleaning; cleaning underpins many aspects of modern life. It is essential to maintaining order and the prevention of disease; without it the world would simply not be the same. Some of the unseen benefits of proper cleaning include:
- Minimising the spread of infection reducing employee absenteeism,
- Promoting tourism as visitors are impressed by and seek out clean and comfortable environments,
- Increasing returns on property development,
- Creating safer workplaces.
“The cleaning industry is a massive sector,” says William Little, Managing Director of Cleaning Doctor.
“Many businesses are hurting with the global turmoil that's out there, yet the cleaning services industry, when delivered by experts, is still buoyant. As home and business owners batten down the hatches so to speak I find that more and more are cleaning and restoring rather than replacing,” he continued.
450,000 are people currently working in the private sector and there are more than 3,400 cleaning businesses in operation. The industry is forecast to grow by 3% between 2012 and 2015 (CSSA, 2012).
The industry is made up of two principal sectors: standard cleaning services and specialist cleaning services. In recent years the specialised cleaning market has grown by around 44%, and has shown strong and sustained growth in terms of both value and sales volume*.
Within the specialised cleaning service sector window and exterior home cleaning is estimated to have grown approximately 150% since 2004*. Overall, the office and retail sector has the largest portion of the market, followed by the healthcare cleaning sector.
According to the Employment Growth: The Case For Cleaning report published by the Cleaning and Support Services Association in April 2012, the cleaning industry is driving economic growth and employment at a faster rate than other industries, including the hospitality and retail sectors.
The industry covers quite a range of different businesses, including:
- Self-service launderettes
- Carpet cleaners
- Other cleaning service providers
- Domestic cleaning
- Corporate and commercial cleaning
One of the key advantages of the cleaning industry is that it provides an indispensible and ubiquitous service. Hospitals, schools, places of work and public transport all need to be continuously cleaned.
Driving Growth In a Post-Recession Economy
Cleaning is a growing industry, employs many people and has become an important sector in the UK economy. The cleaning industry is known as a growth multiplier because it reinforces the growth of other industries as it grows itself. Long-term benefits of investing in the UK industry include:
- Can't be off shored
One of the key benefits to the UK economy is that cleaning jobs cannot be offshored; they have to be done by workers who live in the country. Workers spend their wages in the UK, making the sector driving growth throughout the entire British economy.
- Offers entry-level employment
With one in nine adults leaving the education system without any academic qualifications (ONS, 2012) the cleaning industry can offer an accessible entry route into employment. This can alleviate the burden of those dependent on government benefits by offering a ladder into employment for less qualified people.
- Cuts the cost of healthcare
With infections costing the NHS an estimated £1 billion each year, reducing infections through proper cleaning saves money in the long run. The introduction of one new cleaner into a hospital ward can reduce microbial contamination and achieve savings of between £30,000 and £70,000.
- Reduced employee absenteeism
UK employers lose over £14bn each year due to employee absenteeism (Confederation of British Industry). Regularly cleaned desks, offices and communal rooms can reduce the spread of illness throughout a workforce, especially in the winter flu season. Timely and effective cleaning intervention can prevent the spread of disease and even increase the productivity and satisfaction of employees.