Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Dry cleaner who loves town opening business

A NEW dry cleaners will open in Henley next month.

A NEW dry cleaners will open in Henley next month.

Lilly Dry Clean is to move into the former Simon Drew Art Works premises in New Street.

The shop has been empty since the artist closed it in December after three years.

Mr Drew blamed the cost of overheads, particularly business rates, and having to travel to and from Dartmouth in Devon, where he has two other shops.

Londoner Andy Andreou, 48, who has been in the dry cleaning industry for more than 30 years, decided to move to Henley after visiting the town about three years ago.

He said: “I came with my wife and family and we went on a boat trip. I just loved the feel of the town.” Mr Andreou, who lives in Pinner, began his career as a tea boy with a dress manufacturer in London and worked his way up to manager before launching his own dress manufacturer, Ace.

He decided to start a dry cleaning business because he was unimpressed by the ones he knew.

Mr Andreou said: “One day I was driving past a cleaners in Harrow and they were using an iron you would find at home. I thought I could do a better job.”

He opened the Ironing Service and Lillywhite Dry Cleaners in Pinner in 1999 and then opened branches in Edgware and Rayners Lane.

“My first customer was Top Shop,” said Mr Andreou. “They phoned me up and asked if I could do express pressing in bulk.

“They were sending me clothes from India and China. My first order was 20,000 skirts in boxes.

“I thought the phone call was a joke — I didn’t believe it. Within the first week I had boxes all over the place and it went from a small shop to a big shop with eight staff.”

Mr Andreou has owned up to 10 dry cleaning businesses but in 2011 he sold them all in order to go travelling for a year.

When he came back he opened a shop in Amersham, which he still has. His new business will offer customers a clothing alterations service as well as cleaning.

Mr Andreou said: “All cleaning will be done in-house with our own state-of-the-art equipment that is eco-friendly.

“We dry clean all types of garments and specialise in the care of delicate wedding and evening gowns.

“I care about people’s stuff. When you are a dry cleaner you have a lot of responsibility.

“You get given wedding dresses which will probably never be worn again but when you give it back it must be like new.

“I had one customer whose wedding dress I cleaned for each of her three marriages.”

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