Wash and go: Industrial-sized washing machines to be introduced at supermarket car parks so you can launder your duvet while doing the weekly shop
A scheme to put washing machines in supermarket car parks will let customers launder duvets and bedding while doing their weekly shop.
By next summer, shoppers could see coin-operated industrial-sized washing machines and dryers rolled out across the UK.
Photo-Me, the Surrey-based company which operates thousands of the photo booths found in supermarkets and train stations, is trialling the machines across France and Belgium.
Launderettes are to be put in supermarket car parks as part of a new scheme
It has spent three years testing and developing the concept - and believes it has found a niche in the market.
The washers, which can hold up to 18kg, are big enough to launder a king-sized duvet as well as other items that are too large to fit in domestic machines.
For around £6, shoppers can load up the machines and then head into the supermarket - returning an hour later to collect their freshly laundered bedding.
Some 3,000 will be installed on the continent by 2015, with ambitious plans to launch them in the UK in the middle of next year.
The company approached its existing UK customers including Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s about placing the washers in their car parks.
Mega-shopping centres such as the Westfield Centre in west London could also see banks of the washers installed if the scheme goes ahead.
Across the continent, it already has more than 180 in operation - which have proved popular with consumers.
Plans are afoot to place the washing machines in supermarket car parks including those belonging to Sainsbury¿s
It sold 160 to franchisees and runs 23 itself - but will expand the programme 'aggressively' in the next three years.
Currently they charge €8, around £6.40, for a wash of up to 18kg, and €4, around £3.20, for a smaller load of 8kg.
It costs an extra one euro (81p) to dry the load as well. The rate is cheaper than laundrettes, the company says.
It is doing market research to test what British reaction to the venture will be - and how much it can charge for the service.
Photo-Me is also investigating a phone-based system where customers receive a text message when their dry laundry is ready to collect.
Washes can take between half an hour and an hour - with the final operating time of the machines still being ironed out.
It is also probing whether to have the machines opened by a unique pin code as well - to stop other shoppers stealing your bedding while you are stuck in the check-out queue.
Built in France, the company is planning to push production to the Far East in cost-cutting measure as it prepares to mass-produce the machines.
Because they are located outside the supermarkets - in the covered alcove before the main entrance - they have to be durable.
The machines are designed by French designer Philippe Starck, who was credited with revolutionising boutique hotels in the late 1980s.
Mr Starck also designed some of the company’s photo-booths.
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