“Working around the clock to support the healthcare sector”
Carrington Textiles is the largest producer of workwear fabrics in the UK, producing over 55 million metres of fabric annually, and exporting to more than 80 countries worldwide. The PCIAW® spoke with Carrington Textiles to find out how the pandemic had impacted them.
Can you tell us what you have been working on over the last few months and during the current pandemic?
At Carrington Textiles we focused all our resources and efforts to support the healthcare sector by providing fabrics, not only to the main healthcare garment providers, but also to local ‘scrub hubs’ around the country and fashion retailers who repurposed their production lines to produce the much needed PPE for the NHS.
We worked around the clock with some of the biggest garment providers to the NHS and the healthcare sector in France, Germany, Eastern Europe and Scandinavia, to supply over 3.5 million metres of fabric – a demand two times greater than usual – with 2.5 million metres alone serving the NHS, care homes, pharmacies and other front line healthcare professionals in the UK.
The latter figure translates into more than 1 million sets of reusable uniforms, including scrub suits or tunics and trousers.
Another 300,000 metres of Carrington Textiles’ healthcare specialised fabrics were provided to clothe frontline staff at Nightingale Hospitals around the country.
Additionally, at Carrington Textiles we teamed up with our main production facility in the UK, Pincroft, and a UK biotech firm to manufacture an antiviral fabric made into snoods. These virus-killing snoods became highly popular for their protective technology and for being a more comfortable alternative to face masks.
It is important to mention that all our healthcare specialised fabrics are industrially launderable which means they are reusable, therefore kinder to the environment.
How have you managed as a company during the pandemic and what challenges have you faced?
As a company we all had to adapt to a new way to do things and our teams have all adjusted brilliantly to the new circumstances.
On site we focused on keeping our key workers safe by putting measures in place to safeguard their health and safety, while ensuring the production of much needed healthcare fabric wasn’t affected.
For those able to work from home we have provided the necessary support and flexibility as most of us juggle family responsibilities.
One of the biggest challenges we faced during the first months of the pandemic was the closing of borders around the world, which made freight and logistics tricky for everyone. Thankfully, our long-standing committed partners showed their support throughout, so we were able to continue delivering our best in class service to customers.
What are your thoughts on predominately ‘going online’ during this current time?
Going online is a necessity, so we need to embrace it and find ways of maximising the experiences with customers and colleagues. One positive change is that we are all more available for customers as travel is not eating into our working days.
We must recognise that this is not going to be a short-term change to our working lives but more likely a medium to long term shift. We have therefore focused on technologies that make us easy to do business with, easy to work for and support our teams and colleagues to work as easily from home as they did from the office. We have worked on our sample service and made our website interactive, with easy product selectors to deliver the best customer experience.
Textiles is still a “touchy feely” product (aesthetic is important) and customers need to see the product. Face-to-face is therefore important, as is the human interaction, so we will support safe ways to return to this. We look forward to exhibitions restarting!
How can we prepare and do better should this happen again?
We are still adapting to a new way of life and haven’t gone back to pre-Covid ways of working, so we are incredibly well placed to continue. We can only hope that once this is over it does not happen again!
The pandemic has brought a lot of issues to light such as the lack of support our industry gets from the government and the challenges manufacturing in the UK faces. How important is it to you to manufacture closer to home?
Manufacturing closer to home, today more than ever, is vital, as it allows fast responses and can mobilise rapidly, as well as being more flexible, adaptable and providing shorter lead times. At Carrington Textiles we continue to support local supply chains in all markets we have presence.