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Textile and sportswear manufacturers pivot to masks and gowns

25/03/2020

As businesses and brands across the world see their supply chains and sales figures devastated by COVID-19, a growing number are using their resources to help combat the spread of the virus.

In the US, according to Reuters, the National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) lobby group is organising companies that are typically one another’s competitors to work together. NCTO chief executive Kim Glass said companies large and small are stepping up to the challenge.

American Giant, for example, has switched two of its North Carolina plants over to mask making. The company’s CEO Bayard Winthrop said they expect to make 35,000 masks in the first week, a number that he expects to increase.

In Ireland, sportswear company O’Neills is moving to manufacturing scrubs for the Health and Social Care Trusts in Northern Ireland, according to the Irish Times. The company is said to have confirmed orders for 5,000 scrubs and is in discussions for much larger orders for front-line NHS staff there.

The company has said it’s begun the process at its Walkinstown site in Dublin, the paper reported. There, fabric is to be dyed and undergo anti-viral treatment. O’Neill’s recently had to lay off 900 workers as a result of the coronavirus; there are estimates that -- to continue to adhere to health and safety protocols -- no more than 150 people will be brought back on for the new efforts.