Shoppers in Sunderland are taking a shine to a new business, which offers them an environmentally friendly way to clean their cars.

Autovalet Management has taken over the car washing operation running out of the Bridges’ Debenhams car park.

And the contract win is also good news for one of the company owners, allowing her to return to her native North East.

Autovalet Management operates in shopping centre car parks up and down the country and is owned by former Durham woman Sharon Lopeman and business partner Stella O’Shea.
The company prides itself on not only its ethical treatment of its staff but also in using only environmentally friendly products.

The expertise of Sharon and Stella is such that they were invited by the Environment Agency to help in the formation of the guidelines which went into a Government White Paper on car washing.

Autovalet uses a waterless system of car cleaning and instead uses a chemical cleaning spray, which does not harm the environment.
“We spent a long time researching until we got the right product,” said Sharon.

“I know people will think its strange that you can clean a car without water but the results are fantastic and what we use does not affect the eco system.”
The company operates from their own section of the Bridges’ multistorey car park where shoppers can leave their car, or alternatively the car washers can also clean a vehicle parked in any other space.

While car cleaning outlets have had bad publicity in the past for their treatment of employees, Autovalet Management ensures that everyone employed is paid a fair wage.
“Our staff are very important to us and we treat them properly,” said Sharon.

She is also delighted to have the first foothold in the North East.

“It’s very exciting for me to come back to the area after being in the south for so long,” she said.

“It’s fantastic for us to be at the Bridges and to be able to bring our unique service there.”

Andy Bradley, centre director at the Bridges, added that Autovalet Management was a huge asset.

“Staff wellbeing is very important to us as is protecting the environment, so Autovalet Management is a perfect fit for us,” he said.