I was very fortunate to be selected as part of the 2018 WCL Travelling Scholarship, hosted by Girbau (9-12 April). Other than the great company, productive discussions, knowledge sharing, seafood and sightseeing – the real highlight was a tour of the newly opened and genuinely inspiring Girbau Experience Centre (GEX) and the Girbau factories – at their headquarters in Vic, in the Barcelona Province, Catalonia.
The GEX is a modern, bright, architectural space that is both energising and elegant – combining an expansive white backdrop for showcasing the latest Girbau equipment (everything from 13kg wet cleaning machines to the enormous DRB 3+ front feeder) with well-appointed classrooms, comfortable meeting spaces, and the new virtual reality laundry technology. The focus is clearly on innovation – and it’s a very long way from the traditional industrial shop floor!
Here at Ideal, we’ve adopted a similar commitment to transparency, innovation and design-led thinking at our factory in Northamptonshire – and it was useful to see such a good example of these ideas being implemented so successfully.
The visit was also a great opportunity to spend a few days with a dynamic, motivated and diverse group of young professionals – all making their way in the laundry & textile care industry. We received a warm Catalan welcome from Girbau, and were hosted perfectly by Jo Emmerson (Marketing Manager at Girbau UK) – who really went out of her way to ensure we got the most out of the scholarship, and the beautiful city of Barcelona!
I was in awe of the GEX and the serene calm and efficiency of the production and assembly sites. Moreover – I was impressed by the passion of each Girbau team member we encountered… and the way in which they have partnered with a charitable organisation to help disadvantaged employees find work in a state-of-the-art commercial laundry near to their factories in Vic.
It was exciting to be introduced to laundry professionals in plants around Barcelona and to witness some real innovation in the coin-op launderette sector – where great care has been taken to redefine the high-street laundry experience (notably at Splash).
There’s clearly a lot to learn from a company like Girbau: their culture, drive and commitment to innovation.
I’m very grateful to Girbau and The Worshipful Company of Launderers for the opportunity to take part and would recommend the experience to anyone in the laundry & textile care industry who is thinking of applying in 2019.