Enabling retail in challenging times with scaffold-free façade cleaning.

With the economy unlocking, there’s a profound commercial imperative to make up for lost time. Few sectors have been affected as acutely by the pandemic as high street retail and, with the recovery underway, operators are now leveraging every edge they can find to gain competitive advantage.

Key amongst these considerations is the appearance of their buildings. With a correlation between presentation of premises with retail traffic, it’s not just in the shop window displays where operators are raising their game. The fabric and appearance of the building itself can significantly influence customer footfall, so a pristine façade is high on the list of priorities.

Of course, the Catch 22 is that, in order to clean your façade, conventional wisdom has it that you need to shroud your premises in scaffolding for weeks, if not months on end. Scaffolding obscures elegant shopfronts, deters shoppers and, in busy city centre locations, poses potential security and safety risks.

Oxford Circus revival

As it hits the news this week with news of its transformation into a pedestrian piazza, imagine the historic façades of Oxford Circus, perhaps Britain’s most iconic and enduring retail landmark, encased in a latticework of scaffolding… hardly a conducive environment to welcome returning shoppers.

However, having cleaned three of the four Grade II listed quadrants of Oxford Circus in recent years, London-based restoration specialists Thomann-Hanry® offer an alternative approach. A solution that returns façades to their original splendour in a matter of days – with not a pole of scaffolding in sight. The solution is façade gommage®.

This patented process projects fine, inert powders across stonework and masonry, gently lifting away years of accumulated dirt and grime to reveal the original surface beneath. Better still, as façade gommage® is carried out from a lorry-mounted hydraulic work platform, technicians can be actively cleaning within a couple of hours of arriving on site, with minimal set-up delays or downtime.

Similarly, at the end of a cleaning session, the hydraulic platform is simply retracted, with all work vehicles returning to Thomann-Hanry®’s headquarters in Park Royal, NW10.

It’s a “tread lightly” approach that has the added advantage of enabling the company to work overnight, effecting seemingly miraculous transformations, away from the gaze of daytime shoppers, office workers and passers-by. Observes Emma Cull, Thomann-Hanry® Business Development Manager with a number of our Central London accounts.

As case studies in the advantages of façade gommage®, the Oxford Circus building facade cleans demonstrate the key USPs of the process. Alitalia House, on the south-west corner of Oxford Circus, is now Microsoft’s flagship London store. Cleaning 4,000 sq. m. of Portland stone over just 12 nights in early 2019, all of the Beaux Arts colonnades and detailing of Sir Henry Tanner’s early 20th century architecture were restored to their original glory.

Its neighbour on the south-east corner of the quadrant – and home to the Tezenis fashion brand – Spirella House underwent an equally meticulous clean in the Spring of 2020. A 500 sq. m. facelift was achieved by Thomann-Hanry® in just four shifts – again working overnight.

An earlier clean at the north-east quadrant, Topshop’s flagship store was transformed in just two days, revealing the attractive white-grey hues of the Portland stone so synonymous with much of London’s most iconic historical architecture.

The greener solution for retail building facade cleaning

As these Oxford Circus case studies show, the speed and operational non-scaffold advantages of façade gommage® speak for themselves. However, the environmental credentials of the process should not be overlooked. Compared to conventional water- and chemical-based cleaning techniques, façade gommage® is also a greener solution. No water is used in the cleaning phase of the process, with a minimal amount utilised in the water curtain that removes residues for recycling.

Oxford Circus has always been a draw for shoppers from around the world. Now, with its impending change to a pedestrian piazza as London continues to work towards cleaner air and reduced traffic congestion, the famous quadrant is likely to find itself at the heart of the action like never before. Time is money and, as the retail sector sprints to make up for lost time, there’s not a day to waste.

Enabling operators to optimise their real estate without the collateral damage inflicted by weeks or months of scaffolding, in façade gommage® Thomann-Hanry® offer a compelling commercial solution that can help the retail sector to bounce back faster.

As historic and listed building restoration specialists, we are sponsoring the Restoring and Regenerating Historic Buildings Conference by Built Environment Networking and would like to invite you to attend.
Tuesday, 7th September 2021 09:00hrs – 14:30hrs

Our MD Mark Styles will be hosting a breakout session on the importance of cleaning historic building façades.
Cleaning historic buildings façades makes a significant contribution to their look and feel. Valuing the historic environment as an asset and giving it new life has also a cornerstone of the economic and social revival of our towns and cities.

Get your ticket.

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