Canary Wharf: How Canary Wash aims to improve dry cleaning and laundry locally

Ali Khalil spotted a problem while working on the estate and has created a business to address it

Head of business development at Canary Wash, Ali Khalil

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Ali Khalil works in Canary Wharf.

Around five years ago, his family relocated from Jordan to the UK with the aim of establishing a global business – building on the work of its Middle Eastern company, International Technical Sources For Industrial Equipment. 

Thus United Medical Hospital Systems was born, moving to Canary Wharf after a brief period in Swiss Cottage.

Based first at One Canada Square and now in 25 Cabot Square, the company offers a range of services including hospital design, planning and the supply of equipment, especially related to medical gas systems. 

“After more than 20 years in Jordan, working in the Middle East, we had the know-how, as my father likes to say,” said Ali, who heads business development for the company.

“So we thought about coming to the UK to create a worldwide operation and we’ve more or less been based on the Wharf the whole time.

“We’ve mostly been working in exports around the world.

“We wanted a base that was close to where we were living on the Isle Of Dogs.

“As a family, you need somewhere that’s quieter where there’s not always something going on 24 hours a day and we found this place near the Wharf.

“You have the water, the sky at night and you can get everything here with lots of facilities for the same price as a place in Swiss Cottage that has fewer amenities.”

However, this isn’t an article about the family’s medical business. It’s about a problem Ali identified while working on the Wharf.

“To be honest, I think we’re struggling here with dry cleaning,” he said.

“It’s a very big business area, there are lots of people in the towers and every time you want to do dry cleaning, you wind up queueing for a long time just to drop off your clothes.

“That’s a waste of your lunch hour that day. It’s your break, you deserve it.

“So we thought: ‘why not create and offer a service to all the people working and living locally?’.”

Canary Wash is a dry cleaning and laundry business for Canary Wharf and the Isle Of Dogs

The solution he came up with was to start a business.

Canary Wash is an app-based laundry and dry cleaning firm that collects dirty clothes and delivers them back to customers on the Wharf or the Isle Of Dogs.

“The app we’ve created is live and we’re competitively priced,” said Ali.

“We’ll collect your dry cleaning and laundry, do it for you and then bring it back for the same price as you would pay if you went into a shop, queued there, dropped off your clothes and then went back another day to pick them up via the same process.

“We picked the name Canary Wash, because this is where we are operating, with a logo that features the towers.

“We started two months ago with Canary Wharf and then added the Isle Of Dogs.

“We’re expecting it mostly to serve businesses and residential addresses in the area.

“We offer dry cleaning, washing, ironing – and washing and ironing together.

“For example, customers can send pieces just for ironing or bulky items just for washing, such as duvets or blankets.

“Of course, we deal with all kinds of delicate clothes that can’t be washed at home.

“People always need dry cleaning – with delicates you just can’t risk it.

“I lost one shirt that way myself. I put it in the washing machine at home and it shrunk.

“When I put it on it was really tight – I’d been exercising in the gym, but not enough to get quite so big.”

The process has been designed to be simple.

The app deals with washing, ironing and dry cleaning for ally types of garments

Customers download the Canary Wash app, itemise which pieces of clothing they are sending and which service they require.

Then they pick a two-hour time slot for collection.

A driver arrives to collect the laundry, the order is checked, cleaned and then returned 48 hours later.

“When you make an order via the app, you will select which services you want and then we’ll know what to expect when we get the order,” said Ali, who coaches kids’ football in his spare time.

“Before we wash, we confirm the order against what has been supplied and that we know exactly what we’re doing with each item of clothing.

“If we get a piece we’re not expecting or that doesn’t fit with the order, then we contact the customer via the app to tell them that their order needs to be adjusted.

“We send all the relevant details.

“For example, if an order is for two pieces and there’s a third included, then we’ll ask whether it’s for dry cleaning, ironing or washing and, once confirmed, then we can proceed.

“For me, this business is a new challenge. There have been a lot of things to learn.

“Obviously, when you’re getting into something new you want to do as much research as possible, so we’ve been doing that. 

“We’ve visited lots of businesses and seen how it could be done before designing our service where we’ve tried to merge everything we learnt.

“Our aim is to deliver the best possible quality for the customer.

“People in this area mostly care about the quality of the service and the time more than anything else – so those are the two things we’ve focused on.

“We’ve been live for two months now and it’s been going well, but we’re looking to reach more and more people to take this as big as we can.

“We have the capacity and we’re excited for that to happen and then to expand further. 

“Our plan is to roll this out to other business areas such as Liverpool Street, where people need their time to be saved through our collection and delivery service.

“We aim to collect, clean and deliver a customer’s order back to them within 48 hours.

“That includes extra time built-in, so we can easily achieve that goal and not disappoint anybody.”

To give readers an idea of pricing, Canary Wash offers suits and dresses dry cleaned for £16.50 and £12.99 respectively.

Comparative prices from retail dry cleaners on the Wharf are from £21 and £15 for the same pieces.

Canary Wash’s app offers free pick-up and delivery on orders over £5.

Find our more about Canary Wash here

Read more: How Level39-based WyzePay offers discounts at MMy Wood Wharf

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- Jon Massey is co-founder and editorial director of Wharf Life and writes about a wide range of subjects in Canary Wharf, Docklands and east London - contact via jon.massey@wharf-life.com
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