Getting their black socks back from the hotel laundry is often a headache for expatriates spending their first months in Macau. Say a dozen guests get their black socks washed each day: 12 pairs could become impossible to match after drying and ironing. The result is that socks from Room 401 could easily get mixed with those from Room 824, for example. The matching game is made easier if the hotel has an in-house laundry. But as Macau's blossoming economy attracts more expatriate professionals to come to live, work and invest, Macau's hotels are increasingly outsourcing their laundry services. Last year, Kokit Washing Company, established in Macau in 1989, doubled its client list. With nine retail shops throughout the city and a washing plant in an industrial building, Kokit has been handling a 50 per cent increase in washing loads since last October. Monthly revenues reached 2 million to 2.4 million patacas, on average. Given that Macau has 12,000 hotel rooms - and counting - this means a black sock from one hotel could easily be mismatched with another sock from a different hotel. A new laundry plant might save the day. Last week, Kokit unveiled a 50 million pataca washing and ironing plant at a high-profile inauguration ceremony. Not only did the company take out a full front-page advertisement in the city's most widely read Chinese-language newspaper, but the ceremony was attended by Chief Executive Edmund Ho Hau-wah. This is a lot of political capital for a laundry plant. It turns out that the plant is co-owned by Nam Kwong Group, a Macau conglomerate in trading, hotels and logistics. The group, set up in 1949, has deep-rooted mainland ties. Kokit's executives say many lesser-known industries in Macau are reaping the windfall of the economic boom. 'We really want to boost productivity, so we have imported the most advanced technologies from Japan, Germany and the United States,' said Lai Chin-hong, general manager of Kokit. 'The machines are expected to reduce our manpower needs by 30 per cent.' Mr Lai said his nine retail shops and two plants have the capacity to handle 60 tonnes of laundry every day. But, more importantly, would the plant solve the black-sock problem? The firm's public-relations staff that day insisted such mixups were usually caused by a hotel's housekeeping staff, not by the laundry plant. 'For longer stayers, we suggest that the hotels make some kind of mark on the socks,' a PR officer said. 'Perhaps sew on a tag or something with the guest's initials on it. The guest might appreciate such personal service.'