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Hospital disinfectant manufacturer sees ‘crazy rush’ for products amid coronavirus crisis

PUBLISHED: 05:09 25 March 2020 | UPDATED: 08:41 25 March 2020

Tristel chief executive Paul Swinney  Picture: GREGG BROWN

Tristel chief executive Paul Swinney Picture: GREGG BROWN

A manufacturer of highly specialist cleaning products for hospitals says it has seen a “massive” rise in demand for its strong surface disinfectants as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

Hygiene products company Tristel has seen a big increase in demand for its products amid the coronavirus crisis  Picture: TRISTELHygiene products company Tristel has seen a big increase in demand for its products amid the coronavirus crisis Picture: TRISTEL

Tristel – a £30m turnover company – has ramped up production at its factory in Snailwell, near Newmarket, as a result of the uptick in demand.

It is also expecting a big rise in orders for its very powerful disinfectants for medical instruments. The firm, which employs 100 of its 160 staff at its Newmarket headquarters, says members of its 20-strong sales team – normally based at eight offices throughout the country – are also mucking in and there is a great spirit at the business to get products out to hospitals, its boss said.

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Usually its surface cleaning products make up around 10% of turnover, explained chief executive Paul Swinney, with the medical instruments cleansers taking up the bulk of orders, but this had changed in recent weeks.

“It’s our surface disinfectants which are in dire need. That’s partly because they are good, but also there’s a crazy rush for disinfectants. We are lucky in that we have got capacity here. We manufacture here in Suffolk/Cambridgeshire. We fortunately were gearing up to make a push into surfaces in the last 12 to 18 months.”

Tristel's factory and headquarters at Snailwell, near Newmarket  Picture: GREGG BROWNTristel's factory and headquarters at Snailwell, near Newmarket Picture: GREGG BROWN

There had been a “massive” increase in demand for the products, he said. “It’s unprecedented.”

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This was coming from the UK, Spain, Belgium and Germany – all markets it supplies into, he said.

“All these hospital systems are under such pressure and the hygiene regimes have been upped in their intensity and frequencies and there’s a shortage of supply in disinfectant products.”

Tristel endoscope products  Picture: TRISTELTristel endoscope products Picture: TRISTEL

He predicted that the increases the firm had seen would become permanent. “I don’t think the legacy of this will be: ‘Let’s return to the complacencies that we have all been guilty of in the past,’” he said.

The company, which is already fast-growing, has seen annual growth of around 17% year-on-year since going public in 2005. “I think very likely there’s going to be an uptick in growth rates,” said Mr Swinney.

Morale was good within the business, he added. “I think the spirit within the company is very good. When we look outside of the company and see our favourite pubs and hotels and restaurants closing down it’s with great sorrow we see what’s happening in the world,” he said, but added that the team was motivated by the desire to do something meaningful amid the crisis.

Luckily, with the very strong demand in all its markets, the manufacturer has “very little exposure to convoluted international supply chains”, said Mr Swinney, and it also had adequate productive capacity, which meant it was well placed to meet the requirements of its customers in the UK and overseas.

Tristel endoscope cleaning products  Picture: TRISTELTristel endoscope cleaning products Picture: TRISTEL

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