We are now closer to 2020 than we realise. Having just said goodbye to the year 2017, Shanti Petiwala, looks back on the global and regional trends that took 2017 by storm and how they impacted the industry.
Acquisitions: The cleaning and hygiene industry has had shocker after shocker in terms of acquisitions and mergers.
1. Tennant Co. acquired European company IPC Group in April 2017. Tennant is involved in designing, manufacturing and marketing solutions that help create a cleaner, safer, healthier world. IPC Group, based in Italy, designs and manufactures innovative professional cleaning equipment, tools and other solutions. The addition of IPC will more than double Tennant’s current EMEA business, providing the scale needed to accelerate Tennant’s growth and better leverage its EMEA cost structure. IPC Group sells its products under the brand names IPC, IPC Foma, IPC Eagle, IPC Gansow, ICA, Vaclensa, Portotecnica, Sirio and Soteco, Ready System, Euromop, and Pulex. Both companies’ brands will continue to operate in their marketsas part of Tennant’s multi-brand portfolio.
2. In September 2017, Diversey Inc. became a standalone brand and separated from Sealed Air. Ilham Kadri is now the President & CEO of Diversey, which was acquired by Bain Capital Private Equity. The company has undergone a major shift in terms of rebranding. Globally, Diversey employs approximately 8,600 people and generated net sales of approximately $2.6 billion in 2016.
3. In October 2017, Diversey acquired UK-based Zenith Hygiene via Bain Capital Zenith Hygiene offers a wide, high quality range of products serving customers in the healthcare, food service, hospitality, leisure and facilities management, pharmaceutical, and food and beverage processing industries. The company employs more than 500 people and generated net sales of £67M in the fiscal year ending February 2017. The acquisition will build Diversey’s local scale in the UK and Ireland.
4. In December 2017, the GCC region’s cleaning and hygiene industry underwent a massive shift with the acquisition of Arpal Group by US giant Ecolab Inc. Arpal Group has a strong footprint in long-term care and commercial catering sectors in the UK and Ireland, as well as the thriving hospitality sector in the Middle East and its Gulf division has 46 employees. For Ecolab, this deal brings RP Adam strength in regional, independent customers and in the long-term care sector nationally in the UK, along with Arpal Gulf’s expertise in commercial catering in the UAE in particular.
Mattress sanitization: The importance of mattress sanitization has been reiterated time and again; however, despite several companies including Allerx, RemUVe from Hydrogulf and Clean Sleep having made a presence in the GCC, it has proven to be more effective in home cleaning services than in housekeeping or healthcare. Most products of mattress sanitization use UV rays and other similar relatively harmless prouducts without the need for chemicals and are extremely effective in prevention of bed bugs, cleaning of dead skin and dust mites from mattresses.
Cleaning without chemicals: While most chemical manufacturing companies might argue that you cannot clean without some amount of chemical in cleaning agents, there is a growing group of evangelists of chemical-free cleaning in the industry. From probiotic cleaning products that use bacteria that naturally grows in the air and is harmless to living things, to using electrically charged water that does the work without the need for bleach or ammonia or more complicated components, cleaning solution providers are growing more and more aware of the harmful effect of harsh chemicals not only on the user, but also on the environment.
Going local: Local manufacturing facilities in the UAE are fast gaining traction. The country is not known for its manufacturing industry; however, several companies in the cleaning and hygiene industry are now setting up shop to focus on local manufacturing – including companies like Biotek Belhasa, Blue – part of Al Serkal Group, Chemex, Fragrance Delivery Technologies, etc. Not only does local manufacturing make sense, it also reduces possible carbon footprint, and the resulting products are a direct impact of the trends and requirements of the region.
Food hygiene: Across the year, municipalities across the GCC region have shut down several 1000s of food establishments for violating food hygiene standards and regulations. On the other hand, several others have also been given food hygiene honours for actually adhering to them.
Washroom software: The use of software in washrooms has led to better scrutiny of washroom hygiene. Several washroom software manufacturers have been providing their solutions to the region’s top end users. Clients like malls, airports, schools, etc., are now depending on these software to connect them to the washroom-using habits of consumers in peak hours that will then determine how and when cleaning and replenishment of resources must take place.
Aircraft cleaning: Emirates Airlines made a big splash with a new, innovative drywash technology that requires very little water to clean the outer portion of the aircraft. This certainly brought aircraft cleaning into clearer focus on World Environment Day!
Robotics: Industry 4.0 has been around for a while – but its full-blown impact has not reached the Gulf region yet. Yes, now, some companies and facilities are focusing on using automated machines and software for their cleaning requirements, but largely manpower is still used to handle cleaning operations. What is now changing that is the use of robots that will now provide cleaning and security solutions at the new DEWA headquarters once it is completed in 2019.