on Steam heat Hiring out carpet steam cleaners used to be the province of DIY chains, but now the multiples are getting in on the act. Safeway is adding a further 100 stores to its distribution of Rug Doctor, the leading hire system, and the Co-operative Group is introducing it to another 40 stores. Tesco and Sainsbury have trialled Rug Doctor and have seen sales of detergents increase dramatically alongside hire income. Typical hire charge for a house with 800 sq ft of carpet is around £27.40, including detergents. "It seems the multiples are moving into self-hire carpet cleaning more or less immediately, says Rug Doctor md Mike Holden. "Our US parent sees UK supermarkets as the major growth area in the whole of Europe." Holden says the hire market has been growing 20% a year for the past three years, despite low-level brand and marketing support. "We expect it to increase to more than £27m within five years, with the top five multiples taking 50% of the market," he says. Next month, the company starts an aggressive marketing campaign to push growth to 100% by this time next year. This includes an overhaul of its retailer offer with new display stands, packs and rolling video loop, plus a consumer press campaign. {{FOCUS SPECIALS }}

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