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A commercial laundry which cleans workwear for companies throughout the East Midlands, serving the food and drink industry, is taking a major leap forward in customer service with the introduction of an innovative IT project.
Derbyshire-based Giltbrook Cleaners is able to bring in the new technology thanks to a support package from the Food and Drink iNet, worth nearly £5,500. The company will match this with its own funding, valuing the project at nearly £11,000.
The new IT will create a customer portal on the Giltbook company website, at This discreet area of the site will enable clients to log in and track their garments in real time.
Chris Jackson, CEO at the Ilkeston-based laundry, said the new customer relationship management system represented a huge leap in customer service.
“Many of our clients are in the food and drink sector, often accredited with the likes of BRC (British Retail Consortium) regulations, so they have to show due diligence in all areas, including that of cleaning their workforce’s garments,” he said. “Our new system means that at a moment’s notice they can check what stage any garment is at and gather all the necessary information.”
Mr Jackson said the customer portal would also be of use to those working out of hours. “For example, there may be a hygiene manager running a number of sites who is on a nightshift, who wants to track down and check up on the cleaning process. We are not here 24 hours a day but, thanks to the customer portal, the information will be.”
He added that the system would enable clients to set targets and, crucially, would show up any discrepancies. “As with many systems, it will be particularly good at showing anomalies. For example, if work garments haven’t been sent to us for cleaning and should have been, this information and evidence will be on hand.”
The new customer portal is currently being developed and is due to go live in February. Mr Jackson said the Food and Drink iNet award had made the project possible. “Without the financial award it would have been a far lesser project. Moreover, the support and advice we have had from the iNet has been absolutely crucial.”
Giltbrook Cleaners is a family-run business, which has been operating for more than 60 years and employs 45 people. Its clients include a number of companies from the East Midland Food and Drink Forum, who in turn supply big name food retailers, such as Tesco.
“We know this new customer portal is something our clients will welcome. All this information has always been available to them, but this way it will be there 24/7 in the format they require,” he added.
Andrew Butterwick, Food and Drink iNet director, said: “This IT project represents a big move forward in customer relations which I hope will make Giltbrook Cleaners an even more attractive proposition for potential new clients. As a company that has been running for more than 60 years, the firm recognises the importance of innovation which is what the Food and Drink iNet is all about.”
The iNet helps food and drink firms engage expertise from academia, research institutions and specialist business advice for innovation projects to develop new ideas, new products, new processes and to help companies grow.  50% of the equivalent cash value of the support must be contributed by the company.
Funded by East Midlands Development Agency (emda) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the Food and Drink iNet co-ordinates innovation support for businesses, universities and individuals working in the food and drink sector in the East Midlands. One of four regional iNets, it has developed an effective network to link academic and private sector expertise and knowledge with local food and drink business innovation needs.
The Food and Drink iNet also aims to build on the tradition of innovation in the food and drink industry in the region by helping to create opportunities to develop knowledge and skills, and to help research, develop and implement new products, markets, services and processes. It is managed by a consortium, led by the Food & Drink Forum and including Food Processing Faraday, Nottingham Trent University, the University of Lincoln, and the University of Nottingham. It is based at Southglade Food Park, Nottingham, with advisors covering the East Midlands region.
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