STRABANE based sportswear giant O’Neills Irish International Sports Company Ltd has announced a new deal to manufacture medical gowns for a UK supplier.
The company is to manufacture fully qualified reusable gowns in a new partnership with a prominent UK-based specialist surgical wear manufacturer as part of major efforts to protect frontline healthcare staff during COVID-19.
O’Neills rapidly transformed its production line from sportswear to healthcare earlier this year in response to the emergency demand for high-quality, durable scrubs by health authorities across the island.
The sportswear manufacturer will be working on the new product in partnership with Anze Limited, formerly known as Buckley Lamb Limited, a well-known brand in the healthcare market across the UK and Ireland.
Established in Sutton-in-Ashfield in 1972, the company produces reusable surgical gowns, drapes and wraps.
O’Neills is expanding its healthcare range to manufacture reusable isolation gowns under licence from Anze Limited.
The gown is CE marked as a medical device, compliant with European Standard EN13795 and reusable for a minimum of 75 wash cycles.
O’Neills is confident this is the only fully qualified solution produced in the UK and Ireland with decades of successful use throughout Ireland and the UK.
Reusable gowns, which are made using high density, fluid repellent microfibre polyester fabric, offer a more sustainable alternative to single-use gowns; they are designed to be wash resistant and steam sterilized.
Kieran Kennedy, managing director of O’Neills, said the company is to the fore once again in stepping up its response to the ongoing demand from the healthcare sector during the pandemic.
He said: “I am delighted to be announcing this new partnership with Anze Limited.
"Their track record in surgical wear combined with our state-of-the-art production facilities and experienced team can play an important role in the healthcare sector’s response to COVID-19.
“O’Neills aim to be part of the solution to decrease reliance on the overseas supply chain for critical healthcare apparel.
"We want to protect our frontline healthcare heroes with a first-class local solution available at our production facilities in the North West.
"Our capability to manufacture scrubs and gowns locally offers greater control, shorter turnarounds and has a less damaging impact on the environment."
He added: “We are constantly innovating as a company. As a vertically integrated manufacturer, we have been able to respond quickly and effectively to the needs of the healthcare sector during the pandemic and will continue to grow the range of products we offer to our customers.”
Richard Lamb from Anze Limited welcomed their new partnership with O’Neills.
He said: “Global PPE shortages during the coronavirus pandemic highlight the importance of local production so that we are not reliant on external sources for critical supplies.
"Family-owned businesses such as Anze Limited with local, vertical supply chains, have responded to the demand and been consistent on quality.
"O’Neills is a like-minded company which has the expertise and capacity to deliver reusable isolation gowns manufactured to the highest standards, meticulously designed to protect the user and we are looking forward to working with their team.”
Invest Northern Ireland also welcomed the announcement with Rose Mary Stalker, chair, adding: “Building PPE production capability and capacity in NI helps to sustain local employment, equipping our healthcare sector with a timely and reliable source of high quality products and grow sales into wider markets.
"We are delighted to see innovative local companies such as O’Neills pivot their business to assist the healthcare sector during these unprecedented challenging times."
O’Neills were recently hailed as CBI ‘Business Heroes’ for their ability to adapt their sportswear manufacturing operation to incorporate scrubs at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.