Peter Wennekes, CEO of CINET: the ambassador of Professional Textile Care

Interview Entretien Textile

Peter Wennekes, CEO of CINET: the ambassador of Professional Textile Care

 

At the head of the CINET (International Textile Care Committee) since 2006, Peter Wennekes intends to promote the textile care professions at an international level. A tireless ambassador for the profession, he is also the organizer of the CINET Awards, which reward laundries and dry cleaners around the world for their best practices.

You have been CEO of CINET since 2005. Can you trace the scope of this association?
The CINET (International Textile Care Committee) was founded in the early 80s of the last century by the merger of two European associations active in textile care, one for Southern Europe, CITEN the other for Northern Europe, CEAPLI. North. Today, CINET has become an umbrella association that brings together textile care players from all over the world. The national laundry and dry cleaners associations and individual members of more than 45 countries, spread over the five continents, are members. In France we can cite the FFPB. Research institutes, such as the CTTN-IREN, have also joined CINET, as well as international suppliers or companies of all sizes working in textile care. We have more than a hundred associate members, and through them, we estimate that we have over 3,500 textile care experts and reach nearly 750,000 businesses. We continue to welcome new members. Very recently, organisations from South America, Indonesia and Eastern Europe have joined us.

 

How do you explain these new memberships?
Partly by the professionalization of the textile care sector in these countries which until recently retained a traditional treatment of linen, partly because of the desire to meet likewise people from the industry. International indicators also show that alongside the growth of the world population, which will soon reach 8 billion people, we are seeing an increase in the highest incomes everywhere, including countries with low purchasing power. This is generally accompanied by the development of textile care services.

 

What is CINET’s objective?
CINET is a non-profit association which aims to build a global network of experts in Professional Textile Care. The objective is to stimulate the implementation of innovation by exchanging information and sharing good practices (among others with the Global Awards) in order to boost the capacities of the industry to make it more efficient, more sustainable and more efficient.

 

What are your ways to achieve this?
To work on these goals, CINET establishes an annual research agenda and offers an international best practice certification program through step-by-step e-learning, workshops and training. This leads to accredited (CERTEX) or non-accredited (CERCLEAN) certification to ISO and EN standards. These programs have been designed on the basis of research and market studies with the aim of building coherent business models that are in line with market needs. These educational programs are available online in English and in other languages ​​including French for certain modules. We are trying to meet market demand, which has been particularly changing in recent years, with the Covid crisis. We have worked with research establishments, to be at the forefront of treatment recommendations for contaminated laundry, for example. We are closely monitoring changes in the health situation in order to disseminate the most up-to-date recommendations. In addition, we are also betting on the Global Awards that we will award in Milan. They are also a powerful tool at the service of professionals.

 

Can you tell us exactly what these Global Awards are, the highlight of the Expo Detergo show in Milan?
It’s a kind of textile care Olympics. This edition will be the 5th. The last one in 2020 which took place online – due to health restrictions, was followed by 26,000 followers! An unexpected record. This competition invites candidates from all over the world to present their know-how and their performance in front of an international jury of 20 independent jurors, from research institutes or the professional press. Presentations are graded according to a scale. Whoever gets the highest score wins an award in their category. Three prizes per category are at stake: sustainable development, innovation and an Overall Award. The participants register according to the size and the activity of the Retail company, with a separate category for the industrial laundries.

 

What benefit do the candidates derive from this competition?
Not so much a financial gain but an immense pride for the winners, and the selected ones. The few minutes of presentation are the culmination of upstream work that involved teams in companies for several months. It is also a great communication tool both internally and externally. I will quote a Dutch start-up, which, in 2018, was simply selected. It relied on its selection “among the 35 best in the world”, to establish its credibility with its customers and investors: its turnover has jumped 30% in one year. The achievements presented are also real sources of inspiration for other professionals. Examples of good practices to follow and duplicate.

Mr. Martin Kannegiesser receives the CINET Life Time Award from Peter Wennekes during Expo Detergo 2018
Mr. Martin Kannegiesser receives the CINET Life Time Award from Peter Wennekes during Expo Detergo 2018

What was your course ?
I worked for ten years in the textile industry, more particularly in the field of innovative textiles. Then I spent 25 years in textile maintenance, during which time I was the CEO of the Dutch federation of textile services, FTN which brings together industrial companies such as craftsmen, a bit like the GEIST and NETEX for retail textile cleaners comparable to the FFPB. In 2005, when CINET moved from Brussels to Amsterdam, I was elected CEO.

What are your current priorities?
The exchange of information is crucial in our businesses. We organize events, workshops, conferences on issues of concern to the profession in close relationship with national or local organizations and exhibition organizers. We are also launching studies on topical subjects. I have the feeling that the sector still has to adapt to entrepreneurial changes. The notion of service is becoming essential, and it needs to look at the contributions of digitalization, robotization and big data. Marketing and available tools have evolved. The profession must seize them to make them its own. The other priority, which in many countries is becoming an emergency, is the question of sustainable development and circularity.

 

What is your perception of the Covid crisis?
This crisis has had a disastrous impact, with losses of turnover of up to 80% for some. However, it has paradoxically been an extraordinary engine of creativity. A few were able to design profitable new tailor-made services with expanded applications. The market exists, even if it has been disrupted by the crisis. Professionals must adapt to meet consumer demands It is this creativity, in tune with the market, which I am convinced will be rewarded at the Milan awards.

 

You insist a lot on digitization. What can it bring to the profession?
The profession has a long technical history, and in all countries there are excellent professionals for whom linen care no longer holds any secrets. But today, we must take another step. This technicality must reach its target and meet the consumer and customers. In this, digitalization tools are a tremendous help, to manage orders, improve internal organizations, provide marketing solutions… It is time for professionals in the sector to start a real entrepreneurial approach and seek appropriate solutions. With market demand while being profitable. Technology and know-how should not make us forget the notion of service, this is where digitalization can bring its stone to the building.  It provides a better and precise reach to customers and their demands, as well as more effective and efficient processing. The degree of maturity is not the same depending on the country, and our role is to encourage professionals to progress together step by step towards a more entrepreneurial vision of their business, in order to bring added value. It is by grouping together and adopting the best state-of-the-art practices that they will achieve this.

 

The profession is often singled out for its environmental impact. What can CINET do?
Let’s not get the wrong fight. We have been studying the environmental aspect of professional cleaning and washing for more than ten years. The conclusion is clear, the use of laundry or dry cleaning professionals has 3 to 5 times less impact in terms of energy, water conservation and pollution than housekeeping, provided that good practices are followed. This observation opens up enormous potential that we will have to exploit. It is up to the associations & their members to make this known to governments and the general public. In addition to reducing the carbon impact, entrusting your laundry to specialized companies saves households an average of 4 hours of drudgery. Four hours that they can use at their leisure, for example! Finally, we still have to show our role in circularity at the level of textiles. Professional maintenance is a garment that lasts longer and therefore produces less waste. Here too, renting shows an untapped path. NGOs support us in this approach. Potentially it can reduce the carbon foot print for textiles by a further 50%.

 

What are Cinet’s next challenges?
There are many: the digitization of the profession, sustainable development and training. A few professional associations should still join us. We put online modules to train professionals on the technical, commercial or management level. We have developed a hybrid master’s degree in several countries that takes place online and on site. The profession needs to train, to exchange in order to improve and become a major player in the economy. Our role is to support them by disseminating best practices.