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Thursday, 26 September, 2002, 23:02 GMT 00:02 UK
'Boom time' for cooks and cleaners
A woman dusting a clock
Cleaners are employed by one in 10 European households
The amount we spend on getting other people to do our cleaning, cooking and washing could be about to rocket, a survey has found.

The industry analyst, Datamonitor, reckons that the next four years will be a boom time for domestic help.

At the moment 10% of European households use a cleaning service.

By 2006, Datamonitor says the number will have risen to 16%, making the cleaning market worth more than 30bn euros (18.8bn; $29.4bn).

And it believes demand for meal delivery and home laundry services will also rise.

Sorting out lives

There is already evidence that more workers are choosing to farm out their domestic chores.

A growing number of companies now offer their staff concierge services as part of their benefits packages.


It will be as odd in the future for people not to delegate the organisation of their domestic chores as for someone now to say 'I'm not going to have a washing machine'

Alex Cheatle
Ten UK

"At the moment we look after about 7,000 households who turn to us to organise whatever it is in their lives they want sorting out," says Alex Cheatle of Ten UK, a concierge and lifestyle management business.

For a monthly fee it will find and organise tradesmen, cleaners, laundry and get people to wait in for deliveries.

Mr Cheatle says about 40% of the business is household services, the rest is made up of organising travel and entertainment.

Delegation

Ten UK and its competitors have members who join as individuals as well as those whose companies pay the fee - firms such as Microsoft, KPMG and UBS Warburg.

"It's any firm that wants their people to have a work-life balance so they don't get to be spending their time outside work.

Domestic help in Europe, 2006
Cleaners 30bn euros
Laundry 11.7bn euros
Delivered meals 6.7bn euros
Source: Datamonitor

"Or it's people that don't want their guys at work having to sort these things out," says Mr Cheatle.

He agrees that the market for household services will increase sharply.

"It will be as odd in the future for people not to delegate the organisation of their domestic chores as for someone now to say 'I'm not going to have a washing machine'."

A cleaner from the supermarket?

The food and household goods giant Unilever has already tried, and failed, to get a foothold in this market.

It launched its own cleaning service - Myhome - in south-west London two years ago.

The idea was to take advantage of growing demand for domestic services and to promote Unilever products such as Domestos and Cif.

But, after an 18 month experiment, Unilever decided to sell the business.

In spite of that experience, Datamonitor thinks a boom in spending on household services would offer a perfect opportunity for the supermarkets to get into this market.

Mr Cheatle disagrees. He says that while a Tesco cleaner would probably inspire trust and a feeling of reliability, national insurance and other costs would force a supermarket to charge about 15 an hour.

That compares with an average of about 6.50 an hour at the moment.

Clean clothes and food

More people pay for their homes to be cleaned than for any other household service, but the desire for cleaning, laundry and meal deliveries will all increase, according to Datamonitor.

It estimates that the demand for laundry services will grow at a rate of 17.2% a year to be worth 11.7bn euros by 2006.

And it says the meal delivery market will grow at the rate of 4.8% a year to reach a value of 6.7bn euros.

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Alex Cheatle, Ten UK
"As people come to value their time more and more they're going to want to delegate far more"
Work-life balance

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30 Aug 02 | Business
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