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NPS worked with Lyreco, the WLGA and RotoMedical to manufacture and distribute a 3 layer face covering to Wales’ schoolchildren.

First published:
22 February 2021
Last updated:

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the NPS worked with Lyreco, the WLGA and RotoMedical, the medical and protective equipment division of the Rototherm Group, based in Margam, south Wales, to manufacture and distribute a 3 layer face covering to Wales’ schoolchildren via the NPS framework for personal protective equipment.

The Rototherm Group is a world leader in the supply of industrial instrumentation and services and during the Covid-19 pandemic, their newly formed medical and protective division, Rotomedical, began producing a number of pieces of PPE. This includes face shields, protective medical grade surgical masks and three layer face coverings.

The WLGA highlighted a need to provide face coverings to Welsh schools to the NPS following the issuing of a Welsh Government grant to Welsh local authorities to purchase these items. There was also a desire to have the face covering manufactured in Wales.

Subsequently, the NPS and WLGA worked with RotoMedical to understand how they could help service the Welsh public sector in the fight against the virus.

The NPS and WLGA had discussions with RotoMedical who provided samples of a 3 layer reusable face covering, manufactured in Wales at their Margam factory which offered a much higher level of protection for Wales’ schoolchildren than a standard covering.

One issue that arose was that RotoMedical were not an existing NPS framework supplier, meaning there was no compliant procurement route for public sector bodies to purchase from them. To overcome this, NPS alerted its PPE framework suppliers that RotoMedical were interested in working with them. Lyreco, a supplier on 3 of their frameworks (PPE, Cleaning Materials and Stationery), who have a history of delivering social value and working with indigenous Welsh manufacturers and suppliers made the connection and a business partnership was born.

It was agreed that Lyreco would purchase the products from RotoMedical and distribute them to customers utilising their own nationwide logistics network. Lyreco service their south Wales customers from their own distribution centre in Bridgend and north Wales customers from just over the border in Warrington, employing many Welsh workers in the process. By undertaking this approach, public sector customers can purchase a Welsh manufactured product, in full compliance with the Public Sector Contracts regulations.

Oliver Conger, Managing Director, Rotomedical said:

“RotoMedical are proud to be a Welsh Manufacturer involved in such an important project. I think this project shows the tremendous value of how WLGA and Welsh industry can share a common objective and design, manufacture and deliver a very high quality, Welsh made face covering, in short timescales. This provides SME’s like us the confidence to continue to invest, develop and grow our business. Generating local jobs and growing the local economy is very important for us and it’s fantastic that WLGA support this fully.”

Richard Dooner, Programme Manager at the WLGA commented:

"We had to move swiftly to meet an urgent need to help protect our school children. We were also acutely aware of the need to support both the Welsh economy while minimising the impact on the environment. The RotoMedical product, made in Wales with a laboratory tested 50 wash cycle did all that and met our wider aspirations to support the Foundation Economy and deliver true social value"

Since beginning production of the masks and face coverings, RotoMedical have employed 8 people full time on mask production as well as staff in other areas of the business such as marketing and social media to help grow their products.

Lyreco have also adopted the RotoMedical products as part of their standard catalogue items as part of their push to using British manufacturing, providing RotoMedical with an ongoing business relationship with one of the UK’s most prominent suppliers to the public sector.