Welsh Government Minister praises Covid response from leading workwear manufacturer

15 September 2020

The UK’s leading workwear company has been praised by the Welsh Government for its Covid-19 response after transforming its operations to meet unprecedented demand from frontline healthcare workers.

Alexandra has been working closely with the Welsh Government throughout the Coronavirus crisis to coordinate international supply chain networks but also to source manufacturing capacity for scrubs and PPE in the Principality.

The South Gloucestershire company, already a Tier One Supplier to the NHS in Wales for medical gowns and uniforms has now been awarded Tier One status for PPE.

Alexandra initially stepped in to take on furloughed workers at Laura Ashley’s Texplan production capabilities in Newtown to produce around 5,000 scrub sets a week. It has since helped to coordinate a network of SMEs in Wales to ramp up domestic production levels to meet frontline demands across the country.

These include Neath-based outdoor survival wear company SURVIVA. After responding to an advert from the Welsh Government, SURVIVA has worked with clinicians at the Princess of Wales Hospital, Bridgend, to redesign their protective gowns.

That design is now being manufactured for Alexandra and will be used in NHS hospitals across Wales.

The Welsh Government Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport Lee Waters said: “Ensuring our health and social care heroes have the essential equipment they need to do their jobs through the coronavirus pandemic has been an absolute priority.

“The work of companies like Alexandra and SURVIVA has been crucial to this, and I am delighted we have been able to proactively support the vision and innovation they have shown to adapt their operations so seamlessly through our Smart Innovation and Smart Cymru programmes.

“I would like to thank them and companies across Wales who have helped us secure jobs producing critical medical supplies previously imported from abroad back into the Welsh economy.

“There have been few positives to draw from the national crisis, but this work is certainly one.”

Alexandra, which is headquartered in Thornbury near Bristol, has been designing and manufacturing garments since 1854 and is the UK’s leading supplier of uniforms to the healthcare, hospitality, catering and other industries.

A Tier One Supplier to the NHS in England, the company has manufactured several million medical scrub sets for healthcare workers on the Covid-19 frontline as well as sourcing PPE and other vital equipment.

Indeed, since March, over 90 per cent of the company’s manufacturing capacity in its UK and international factories has been switched to support the NHS and Alexandra has also marshalled its extensive global supply chain network to source PPE and other vital equipment.

Rebecca Jones, Global Sales and Commercial Director, said: “We have been working with the Welsh Government not only to source scrubs and PPE from abroad but to support their initiative to promote the manufacturing of these items in Wales.

“It has been great to work with innovative and dynamic companies across Wales to ensure that quality products are being made and supplied into Welsh hospitals and healthcare settings.”

“Being awarded Tier One Supplier status for PPE is brilliant news and a testament to the hard work and commitment of every member of the fantastic team we have at Alexandra.”

The Welsh Government is working closely with business and industry throughout the country to secure a sustainable domestic supply chain for critical PPE to front line workers.

SURVIVA MD Alex Lewis said: “It has been great working with the team at the Princess of Wales Hospital and really rewarding to be able to do something during this challenging time to help the NHS.

“We have updated and improved the single-use thumb apron design to meet their specifications so it covers more of the wearer, is more flexible, is safer to remove and is more environmentally friendly.

“We were put in touch with Alexandra through the Welsh Government and by modifying our existing machinery and moving to a much larger unit, we will be capable of producing millions of pieces a month for them which will be distributed to NHS frontline workers.”