Can NYC’s Laundry Industry Survive The Pandemic? | Forbes

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Yaakoub Hijazi has not only protected his father’s legacy, but also he’s built the business into a powerhouse in the tight-knit world of hotel launderers in New York. Today, Star Laundry cleans sheets and towels for more than 100 of the city’s roughly 800 hotels, including the Conrad New York and the W Times Square. Based on Forbes’ estimates, it handles as much as 40% of the laundry generated by the city’s hotels, bringing in some $70 million a year in revenue. Add in Hijazi’s other ventures, including real estate in New Jersey and linen manufacturing in Benin, Africa, and his group’s annual revenue is closer to $120 million.

Laundry is a cutthroat business, priced at 30 cents to 45 cents per pound in New York. Price-cutting to gain market share is rampant. Stumbles abound. Prestige Industries, once Hijazi’s biggest competitor, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2017, and its assets were subsequently bought by a private equity firm that owns laundry firm PureTex Solutions. “The entire market is fighting over the same 200 hotels,” says Sang Cho, CEO of Prestige until 2012, who founded Cooperative Laundry in 2018. “We’ve heard some of our competitors bidding below 27 or 28 cents a pound, which is crazy.”

But what happens to one of the most competitive industries in NYC when no laundry is coming in? With hotels empty, Hijazi is hoping to swing his business towards servicing hotel needs but on a normal day, a pivot like that would be unheard of. Hijazi discusses the state of business during the pandemic and what it will take for Star Laundry and the rest of NYC’s laundry industry to survive.

Read the full profile on Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/amyfeldman/2020/02/04/cleaning-up-how-a-27-year-old-college-dropout-turned-his-late-dads-business-into-a-laundry-service-worth-150-million/#2bfc7c2868fc

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