‘Huge’ industry demand as company launches face masks and snoods

Screenworks has been able to brings its furloughed workforce in Haverhill back to work to make anti-

Screenworks has been able to brings its furloughed workforce in Haverhill back to work to make anti-viral face masks and snoods Picture: SKIP50 - Credit: Archant

A Suffolk garment firm is ramping up operations after an explosion of orders for its anti-viral face masks and snoods.

Haverhill-based Screenworks pared down its operations when the UK went into lockdown, but after switching production of its first-to-market anti-viral masks, it is bringing its furloughed staff back to cope with demand.

The firm – which is one of the UK’s oldest garment screen, embroidery and digital print clothing firms – says it is now selling more than 100,000 of its face masks and snoods a week, and is heavily ramping up operations.

The Bumpaa brand products are treated with an antiviral product called ViralOff, which claims to kill up to 99% of viruses over two hours. The masks can also be reused, taking the pressure off demand for disposable masks – but they are not classed as personal protective equipment (PPE).

Managing director Duncan Gilmour said after lockdown they had brainstormed around how to pivot what they did into personal protective equipment (PPE), but found a large number of the products they looked at didn’t meet quality standards.

“When lockdown started, we didn’t know what the outcome could be. Covid-19 has had a huge impact on the textile decoration sector, as festivals, events and corporate activities have been cancelled across the board,” he said.

The team looked into other options, with the aim of finding “superior products with real longevity” to help people to social distance.

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“We are so proud to be launching these first-to-market anti-viral masks and snoods. They present a really exciting opportunity for our sector, and – already – we have seen huge industry demand,” he said.

“We have responded by re-enrolling previously furloughed team members to run the production line, vastly increasing daily operational activity.

“We also really wanted to launch a mask that would be more visually appealing and comfortable for people to wear, and which would also be more environmentally friendly.

“The product isn’t considered PPE, but these masks will play their part in helping to protect vital supplies of PPE.”

Screenworks was founded in 1976, and has been making promotional products since 1991. It has the capacity to process 6.5m items a year. In 2019, it launched its Inspired division which makes customised textiles and promotional clothing.