Burberry's Yorkshire factory plays its part in fight against Covid-19

Luxury retailer Burberry has donated 150,000 pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) to the NHS and care charities after it retooled its factory in Yorkshire to make gowns.
Burberry's Autumn/Winter 2020 showBurberry's Autumn/Winter 2020 show
Burberry's Autumn/Winter 2020 show

Burberry's trench coat factory operations in Castleford closed in March and the site has been repurposed to manufacture non-surgical gowns for the NHS.

Following the Covid-19 outbreak, the factory has switched from making high end luxury goods to manufacturing PPE for medical and care workers.

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Burberry said its employees are proud to be able to contribute to the Covid-19 relief efforts.

Richard Taylor, who works in continuous improvement at Burberry in Castleford, said: "We decided that we'd start making much needed garments for the NHS. So we've had to totally rework the factory so that it's safe for people to be working here. We had to rework all the lines and move machinery around.

"It's really made me feel like I'm making a massive difference to the community, to the country. I couldn't be any prouder."

Burberry assistant team leader Dawn said: "Everything is just exactly the same as if we were making a trench coat. You just feel so amazing. When I go home, it's so rewarding, knowing that I've just done my little bit to help."

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Burberry team leader Sharon added: "Last week when everyone went out to clap for the NHS, my street clapped for me because I'm now a key worker."

In line with Burberry's social distancing and enhanced health and safety measures, no more than 200 employees can be on site at Castleford at any one time.

The firm is also sourcing surgical masks through its supply chain and supplying them to the NHS and charities such as Marie Curie, which provides nursing care for families living with terminal illness.

Burberry's other manufacturing site in Keighley is open and operating with social distancing measures. These include no-contact temperature checks, staggered start times, 2m distancing and single-way walkways.

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The firm said it has looked beyond the Burberry brand to support coronavirus relief efforts, continuing Thomas Burberry’s legacy of protecting others and caring for its communities.

Burberry's chief executive, Marco Gobbetti, said: “Prior to Covid-19, we were delivering strong momentum across our brand and product, with sales ahead of our expectations.

"Since then, the global health emergency has had a profound impact on the world, our industry and Burberry but I am very proud of the way we have responded. We have taken swift action to mitigate the financial impact on our business, while prioritising the safety and well-being of our teams and customers.

"We have a strong balance sheet and liquidity, with space for investment when markets recover. We have found new ways to strengthen our connection with consumers, drawing on our digital leadership."

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Burberry said total sales fell 27 per cent in the three months to March after 60 per cent of its stores were forced to shut their doors.

Mr Gobbetti said: "It will take time to heal but we are encouraged by our strong rebound in some parts of Asia and are well-prepared to navigate through this period."