Family firm launches new product as sales of its germ barriers soar

Mark Tennent, client director at Lowestoft company Zonitise

Mark Tennent, client director at Zonitise, holding its latest laundry additive product - Credit: Zonitise

A family-owned firm which has just launched a germ-killing laundry product says it has seen an explosion in sales of its sanitising products since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Zonitise, which is based in Lowestoft, has launched a laundry additive which it claims eliminates germs and odour-causing bacteria on clothes between washes, providing up to one month’s protection. 

The £7m turnover biotech cleaning company — which makes professional antimicrobial coating treatments — has also created its own antimicrobial cleaning spray and hand sanitiser.

The business was a brand within the Ashfield Group which owns a stone and surface treatments enterprise operating mainly in the construction industry. The Zonitise arm specialises in antimicrobial protection products against bacteria, viruses, mould, mildew, and odours.

When Zonitise’s sales leapt by 4000% last year in the wake of the pandemic it was launched as a separate limited company. 

The business — which employs 10 staff at its Suffolk office on the South Lowestoft Industrial Estate — rents space at a specialist facility in Lenwade, near Norwich, with its own laboratory where it manufactures and bottles the product to be distributed throughout the UK. 

Zonitise says its protected surfaces can now be found at locations including London City Airport and Gatwick Airport as well as schools, hotels and NHS health centres.

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It remains wholly owned by the Ashfield Group which is run by founder Tim Tennent supported by his four sons Edward, Mark, Barry and Archie.

Tim Tennent, founder of the Ashfield Group

Suffolk entrepreneur Tim Tennent, founder of the Ashfield Group which he runs with his sons - Credit: Ashfield Group

Edward is managing director of Zonitise and Ashfield Group and Mark is Zonitise’s client relations director.

The Zonitise Antimicrobial Laundry Additive’s selling point is that it continues to protect laundry in between washes, said the company.

Among its other products are Zonitise Skin, an alcohol-free hand sanitiser which was launched in January, and Zonitise Surface which is designed to protect surfaces and touch points.

Edward Tennent, managing director of Suffolk firm Zonitise

Edward Tennent, son of Tim, and managing director of Zonitise and Ashfield Group - Credit: Zonitise

Edward Tennent said the main focus of product was infection prevention, especially in the healthcare sector, but the company took the decision to make it available to anyone to provide an additional layer of protection on clothing against the virus and many other harmful germs they come into contact with. 

“We have all been sanitising our hands and protecting surfaces to help reduce the spread, and now we can add a protective barrier to our clothes to ensure a safe return to the high streets, pubs, restaurants, gyms and other places that have been dearly missed over the last year,” he said.

“Traditional laundry detergents clean clothes, but they are not as effective against germs and other bacteria, which can remain and multiply on clothes and laundry between washes.

“The antimicrobial fabric technology in Zonitise Antimicrobial Laundry Additive binds to the clothes and remains active between washes. The technology essentially pops the outer cell membranes of micro-organisms that come in touch with it like a water balloon, effectively destroying unwanted microbes so they can’t cause odours and fabric damage, but also helping reduce the risk of bringing home any harmful germs your clothes come in contact with.”