LONDON — Barbour has joined a growing band of British manufacturers that are swapping fashion for protective clothing in the fight against the coronavirus.
On Thursday, Barbour said it has begun making PPE, or personal protective equipment, for local National Health Service facilities in the northeast of England, where the company is based.
The company — which makes waxed jackets and other sporty, outdoorsy clothing, plus seasonal collections — said it is working with the Royal Victoria Infirmary, the first hospital to treat U.K. patients who were suffering from COVID-19 in January.
It has made a first lot of disposable gowns, which it plans to deliver on Friday. Going forward, Barbour plans to work on a larger scale, making gowns and scrubs for front-line medical staff at Royal Victoria and other hospitals in the area where it is based in South Shields, not far from the city of Newcastle.
“Everyone has a role to play in fighting COVID-19 and I wanted my daughter Helen and I to play our part by turning our South Shields factory over to produce PPE product for the NHS,” said Dame Margaret Barbour, the company’s chairman.
She said Barbour has undertaken a “strict risk assessment” to ensure that it adheres to social distancing that staff members are fully protected while undertaking “this important role.”
She also pointed out that the factory now being used for the hospital equipment is where Barbour normally makes its waxed jackets, “and is no stranger to adaptation. During both World Wars, we turned the factory over to make military garments to assist the war effort.
Barbour said the company was happy, once again, to make a difference “this time, to support the NHS.”
As reported, Burberry is also manufacturing PPE garments in its Yorkshire trenchcoat factory, while Patrick Grant has transformed the factories that make E. Tautz men’s clothing into producers of tunic tops and trousers for hospital staff.