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Garden centres offered supply lifeline in face of fragile overseas sources

A new manufacturing facility has opened in the UK promising the garden centre and wider retail industry high volumes of low-cost medical-grade face masks for distribution to customers as they enter a store.

A new plant capable of producing 300,000 masks a day has been opened at Discovery Park in Sandwich, a specialised healthcare innovation and manufacturing campus that was formerly the European home of pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.

The first of three production and packing lines have been installed in the pristine former drug manufacturing and packing hall, with room quickly to scale up production to a million masks per day.

Garden centre owners will be desperate to wean people off internet shopping and get them back into stores, believes Nathan Schreiber, CEO of ArchMed, the company behind the investment.

“We can individually wrap each face mask and brand it for the retailer so that they can distribute them to customers as they enter a garden centre,” he said.

“As we scale up manufacturing we know we can drive unit costs down to very low levels indeed.  Retailers will be spending pennies to give confidence to customers to return to the tills.  The more garden centre operators who do this, the quicker they’ll all benefit from getting people back into their old habits.”

Schreiber says the company’s Ventil face mask is medical grade and uses a 3-ply formula, with non-woven outer layers sandwiching a unique melt-blown middle layer which repels moisture, whether in-bound or out-bound through the wearer’s breath.

“It’s a single-use product capable of performing throughout a day’s shopping and leisure activities,” says Schreiber.

“We can provide branded POS display boxes for customers to help themselves, enabling owners to project their brands as being absolutely in tune with customer and staff concerns about safety and wellbeing.”

The investment will create 30 new jobs in a number of skilled technical and sales roles when fully up and running.

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