Buying the whole package

27th of November 2012
Buying the whole package

In the latest of our special country focus reports, ECJ takes a look at the cleaning sector of Finland, with the help of Hanna Luukkonen, labour market director of the Property Maintenance Association.

Cleaning contractors in Finland are estimated to have achieved a total turnover of 1.7 mrd euros in 2010, according to latest estimates. Market penetration by contractors is 70 per cent are there are approximately 4,315 contractors working in the market.

The Finnish market is highly fragmented when it comes to companies operating in the country. The majority, 65.75 per cent, are self-employed cleaners - just a single person. 29.02 per cent of them employ between two and nine people (1,252 companies); 4.4 per cent between 10 and 49 people (190 companies); 0.51 per cent between 50 and 499 people (22 companies); 0.05 per cent between 500 and 3,000 people (two companies); and 0.07 per cent more than 3,000 people (three companies).

The majority of cleaning contractors achieved a turnover of less than 100,000 euros in 2010 - 65.75 per cent or 2,837 businesses. Turnover was between 100,000 and 500,000 euros for 33.09 per cent, or 1,428 firms; 500,000 and 2.5 million euros for 0.46 per cent, or 20 firms; 2.5 million and five million euros for 0.23 per cent, or 10 companies;  and more than five million euros for 0.46 per cent, or 20 companies.

Market leaders

ISS is the market leader in Finland, with 12,000 employees and a turnover of 419.6 million euros. Next comes Lassila & Tikanoja with 6,849 employees and 264 million euros turnover; SOL with 6,290 employees and 153 million euros turnover; RTK with 1,856 workers and 72.8 million euros turnover; N-Clean with 1,046 employees and 21.8 million euros turnover; Tapiolan Lämpö with 209 employees and turnover of 19.6 million euros; Lujapalvelut with 501 employees and turnover of 19.4 million euros; HH-Kiinteistöpalvelut with 247 employees and 13 million euros turnover; and Coor Service Management with 166 workers and turnover of 11 million euros.

The number of employees in the contract cleaning sector in 2010 was estimated to be 40,000. Of those 12,500 of them work on a part-time basis, or 32 per cent. A significant 75 per cent, or 30,000 of them are women; while 9.2 per cent, or 3,680, are of foreign nationality. Half the workforce, or 20,000 employees, are a member of a trades union. The average duration of work in a week was 30 hours, with 37 hours constituting full-time employment.

The majority of cleaning in Finland is performed during the day between 08.00 and 18.00 - 75 per cent. In the morning, between 06.00 and 08.00, 12 per cent of work is done - while 12 per cent is also carried out between 18.00 and 23.00. The hours from 23.00 to 06.00 account for just one per cent of cleaning duties.

The level of official qualification is high in the Finnish cleaning sector, at 91.25 per cent or 36,500 workers. 3.75 per cent or 1,500 of the technical staff are qualified; 3.75 per cent of 1,500 of the administration or commercial staff; and 1.25 per cent or 500 of the managers.

Hanna Luukkonen, labour market director for the Property Maintenance Association spoke about the work of the organisation. "As an association we represent the facilities services sector and most data covers the whole sector. We have nearly 400 members, and they in turn employ over 40,000 people. There are over 50,000 people in Finland covered in the generally binding collective labour agreements. Generally binding in Finland means that companies are obliged to apply sectors' collective agreements whether they are members of an association or not."

Luukkonen outlined the areas of business covered by the association:

•Cleaning services
•Property maintenance
•Outdoor area maintenance
•Technical services
•Energy management services
•Waste management
•User facilities and support services
•Facility management
•Property owners and  cooperatives

"Many of the companies work in several of the above mentioned services and this, I think, is where the opportunities for growth lie," says Luukkonen. "The clients are interested in buying the whole support service package from one provider."

Looking ahead to 2013, she says: "We believe the most significant challenge in 2013 is the economic situation in Europe and in Finland and how the companies manage the effects and pressure from the clients and the unions at the same time. Some clients are very advanced and enjoy mutually beneficial, productive relationships with the service providers but there is still a lot of room for improvement. Too many clients still go for the lowest price.

"The most significant employment challenge faced by employers is to find enough workers who are professionals and want to stay in the cleaning sector. There are several hundred open positions all the time and it is very difficult to get them filled even if companies are willing to employ workers without experience and vocational training.

"The companies very often train their own workers. The next problem is that the worker too often leaves the sector just a short time after training is completed, and the company is back to square one."


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