Bolton furniture factory re-opens to produce PPE while encouraging fashion manufacturers to follow suit

A Lancashire-based furniture manufacturer has begun producing personal protective equipment (PPE) for NHS workers and is urging fashion brands to do the same.

Since halting its production lines at the beginning of the lockdown, Sofas by Saxon is following the likes of Burberry and Barbour to create much-needed protective wear for NHS staff. 

MD Matt Deighton says he first reached out to local ‘scrubs hubs’ on Facebook over the Easter weekend: “These are communities of people already trying to fill the gap caused by the PPE shortage, and they were able to offer information from the kinds of fabric required to where scrub sewing patterns can be found.”

The company has had to overcome several challenges, such as sourcing scrubs fabric and ensuring its machinery is suitable for the task.

Many of its furloughed employees are now helping to produce PPE on a voluntary basis with social distancing measures in place. The protective wear is being donated to the NHS for free.

“I want to encourage other businesses to use their resources to help.”

Sofas by Saxon is also cutting fabric for local sewers, turning its premises into a pick-up and drop-off point. Independent makers can deliver scrubs, gowns, and visors so healthcare professionals can collect supplies. 

Local support

Based in Bolton, the company is predominantly helping the east Lancashire area. Its MD is encouraging other companies to support their local communities: “There will be a lot out there who’ve had to close their operations, leaving their factories empty,” he says. “I want to encourage other businesses to use their resources to help. Not only can you be proud of doing your bit, but it will also be great for staff morale.” 

He recommends contacting local ‘scrub hubs’ on Facebook to find out how to help, while also offers support for other organisations to get their PPE production off the ground. (E: sales@sofasbysaxon.com)

Deighton adds: “With so much bad news circulating, we’ve all felt quite helpless for the last few weeks. Being able to  support those on the frontline has helped put a spring back in our steps.

“Our staff, who’d have otherwise been at home with nothing to do, say they love volunteering for a great cause. I’m so glad we’re able to support our local health workers at this difficult time.”