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Hot 100 2013 – 79: Portgrade

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The basics

Company name: Portgrade (trading as Afonwen)
What they do: Hotel laundry services
Headquarters: Pwllheli
The Boss: Mark Woolfenden

The financials

Latest turnover (£,000): 19,399
Four-year compound sales growth (%): 30
Latest Ebitda (£,000): 2,738

The details

If you’ve ever stayed in a Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, Radisson Blu or Best Western, the chances are that you’ve slept on Afonwen’s sheets. The company is one of Britain’s leading independent laundry and linen hire companies for hotels, processing more than 1.9 million items of linens per week.

Pwllheli-based Afonwen, a family business, has invested more than £20m in building state-of-the-art laundry production facilities around the country, helping it to service 40,000 hotel bedrooms.

Turnover at the company is just shy of £20m, and boss Mark Woolfenden projects the company will reach £36m within two years. “There are significant further growth opportunities in the market place both from our existing customers but also through the increase in new hotels in London and the South East,” he says.

The downturn has actually benefited Afonwen, as it has resulted in shorter hotel stays for business customers. “When people stay for shorter periods, there is more laundry to do as the sheets need to be changed more often,” he explains. “This is a low-margin, high-volume business but it has a strong degree of resilience. We don’t make a fortune in a buoyant market, but we also don’t see a massive falling off during a downturn.”

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