Textile firm, Great Scot (Scotland) Ltd, is producing fabric face masks to meet demand, not just in Scotland but the UK and around the world.
The masks are being produced by home-workers and have been exported to countries as far away as Puerto Rico and New Zealand.
Income from the venture is enabling the Keith based firm to donate masks to non-medical keyworkers, such as delivery drivers and shop assistants.
For every three masks ordered at the same time, customers are given one free mask to donate in their local area.
Margo Page, Great Scot managing director, described the masks as a ‘strange and unexpected new passion’ for the firm. She added:
“Many of our overseas customers asked us to make coordinating face masks for our other clothing products. We looked at the advice that health authorities around the world were giving to their populations and concluded it was the right thing to do.
“We made a few and gave them away. Within a couple of weeks, the demand had grown exponentially. We bought extra machines and materials, and trained our team to make masks.
“While it's barely sustainable financially, it is meeting international demand and contributing to wider efforts to tackle the pandemic. It is also keeping our team engaged and maintaining the Great Scot brand profile.”
Meanwhile many local distilleries, such as Avva Distillery in Elgin, are producing hand sanitiser to help meet unprecedented demand.
This trend has also seen Forres based Maclean’s Bakery step up to supply Avva with free glycerine, a vital ingredient in sanitiser and one that is also used in cakes.
Lewis Maclean, the firm’s managing director, said they are keen to do what they can to help protect the community.
Makar Technologies, based at Enterprise Park Forres, meanwhile is supporting other technology firms involved in producing components for ventilators.
David King, Makar managing director, explained:
“We are supplying components for resuscitation equipment, normally produced by some of the larger technology firms. This frees up their capacity to meet the increased demand for ventilator components.”
Baxter’s of Speyside has implemented strict social distancing measures at its plant in Fochabers to keep its three production lines running. These have been kept busy producing soups for government care packs.
Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has been working with all these companies over several years. Stuart Black, HIE area manager in Moray, said:
“There are many examples of companies across Moray, the Highlands and Islands and Scotland that are working on various aspects of the effort to tackle the COVID-19 crisis.
“It is heartening to see the tremendous expertise and innovation among Moray businesses being utilised in this way as they respond to the national emergency.”
Sarah Medcraf of Moray Chamber of Commerce, added:
“It’s great to see Moray businesses supporting the efforts to tackle the COVID crisis. We know the sense of community is strong in Moray, so this linked with some quick and innovative thinking has demonstrated some of the region’s strengths. The chamber has been supporting its members with information and advice and taking part in twice weekly business resilience meetings with public and private sector organisations across our area”.