ECJ celebrates 30 years as only pan-European cleaning magazine

22nd of May 2023
ECJ celebrates 30 years as only pan-European cleaning magazine
ECJ celebrates 30 years as only pan-European cleaning magazine

The first edition of European Cleaning Journal (ECJ) was published in March 1993, just as trade barriers across Europe were coming down and the possibilities for business expansion and greater co-operation between the countries of Europe grew.

Founding editor Michelle Marshall is still the editor of ECJ today and she takes a look back at the stories that were featuring in that first edition.

My introduction in the launch edition of ECJ stated that one of our main aims was to encourage and act as a vehicle in enabling co-operation and exchange of knowledge and ideas between cleaning industry colleagues across the countries of Europe. Thirty years later, that key objective has not changed.

Looking back at the 1993 editions it’s clear to see how much the professional cleaning sector has evolved and grown. What’s also clear, however, is that many of the challenges then are still the challenges of today. In terms of technology, today’s smart solutions and robotic cleaning machines are a world away from 1993.

But the workforce issues, for example, remain the same and there is still much work to be done in ensuring our people are equipped with the skills they need to do their job, and that their professionalism and commitment are acknowledged, respected and rewarded.

My colleague Chris Godman – who I founded the magazine with all those years ago – and I would like to extend our thanks to those people and companies that have supported us since the very beginning. Believe it or not, there were many who doubted that a pan-European magazine for the cleaning sector could even succeed.

Our advertisers have remained loyal and we are so appreciative of that – a special mention
must go to Comac in Italy, which has advertised in every single edition of ECJ over 30 years. Thank you for your continued support and endorsement.

So among the important news stories in that first edition, Electrolux in Sweden had just acquired sweepers and scrubbers manufacturer Pulimat in Italy; Dutch cleaning business Vebego had announced a record turnover of 600 million guilders (the Euro had not been introduced yet!) and in Italy Giulio Guizzi had recently published a new book about cleaning, Della Pulizia Industriale.

The British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc) was offering a five-day study trip to the Netherlands as first prize in its bursary award; and the UK was looking forward to the British Cleaning & Support Services Exhibition (BCSSE) in Birmingham that June.

As highlighted by all of ECJ’s national correspondents around Europe at the time, 1992 had been a very difficult year for the industry – there had been a widespread recession. Contract cleaning companies had been forced to keep their prices low by clients, and in turn they had not been investing in new machinery and equipment. So times were challenging for the manufacturers too. However there was also a feeling of optimism with the opening up of the European market and the opportunities it was bringing.

I interviewed the chairman of the British Cleaning Council (BCC) in that first edition. Hazel Woodbridge was the first woman to chair the council and she had strong views about how people in the cleaning sector were perceived. “Cleaners are always seen as being at the bottom of the pile and are never appreciated,” she told me. “They often arrive to do their job after everyone has gone home and nobody even knows what they do and what an important role they play.”

A firm supporter of European unity, Woodbridge added: “The cleaning industry should speak with one voice – not just in the UK but on a Europe-wide basis. If we are to be a truly united Europe, we must all co-operate.”

In 1988 the national contract cleaning associations from eight countries had in fact decided to join forces in order to represent the interests of the sector in the framework of the new European Union. The European Federation of Cleaning Industries was created. Since the launch of ECJ in 1993, I’m proud to say we have worked continuously with EFCI to promote the messages of the professional cleaning industry and raise awareness of its achievements.

New European regulations

Among the other content in the February/March 1993 edition of ECJ – the International Sanitary Supply Association (ISSA) of the USA had just established a European board for the first time. Olivier Richard at EFCI was telling us about the implications of the Transfer of Undertakings (TUPE) directive following a case pending before the EC Court of Justice involving ISS. And there were six new sets of European health and safety at work regulations.

There was an exclusive interview with Waldemar Schmidt, then managing director of ISS Europe. His key message – now that national trade barriers across Europe had been removed, the cleaning industry must strive for higher, more uniform standards of quality.

Also speaking exclusively to ECJ was Tony Dahlmann, who was retiring as managing director of Nilfisk UK. His parting comment was: “The industry does have room for growth but it needs to offer higher productivity which in turn leads to more profit, followed by higher wages and better training.”

It has always been a pleasure and a privilege to be involved in this industry, and to get to know so many of the dedicated people who work within it. So here’s to the next 30 years!


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  • ISSA Interclean
  • EFCI
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