LCN asked textile companies to contact them and share their stories of life since the pandemic. John Shonfeld, Executive Chairman of Tibard, guides us through the Tibard experience
John Shonfeld writes:
“Tibard has been producing and supplying uniforms for the hotel industry since 1979. From some of the UK's biggest casual dining chains like Frankie & Benny & # 39; s to Michelin-starred restaurants no matter the venue, it was likely a Tibard uniform that the staff wore.
“However, on March 16, everything changed. When the government advised the public not to go to pubs or restaurants, we saw our sales dry up literally overnight from 200 order shipments per day to none. This created a difficult position as we had a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Tameside, Manchester, capable of producing over 15,000 pieces of clothing a week that were not being used at a time when the NHS needed more and more specialized clothing. We have therefore contacted a number of our fabric suppliers to offer our services through existing touchpoints to meet demand.
24 hour turnaround
“Within 24 hours, we had moved from making chef's clothes and aprons to scrubs, and had hand sanitizing stations and social distancing measures in our factory to best protect our great employees. We were able to offer scrubs to NHS Trusts and Care Homes in March, April, and May but due to the work of companies like us, volunteers, and imports, the demand for scrubs eventually dried up. However, PPE gowns became the main shortage for healthcare and we decided to work with a partner to develop our own reusable gown.
“Unlike the single-use garments we used before, this garment is made from a harder fabric and can be thermally disinfected after use to ensure it can be worn several times before it becomes waste. Not only is this more environmentally friendly, it is also of higher quality than what has been worn. We still make these dresses to this day and our production is still geared towards them.
“While our incredible production team worked hard to make scrubs and robes, the rest of Tibard was busy researching and developing our own washable face mask. We knew our traditional customers might be interested in additional equipment when they reopen, and we didn't want the hospitality industry to turn to the overpriced junk that can be seen on all social media. A mask for restaurants, cafes, pubs, and other venues had to be comfortable, adjustable, three-layer, and machine washable. The Tibard face mask is designed to meet all of these needs at an incredible price for a cover that can be used up to 50 times. Hospitality sites across the country now proudly wear our mask, the logo of which has been carried onto the page. After all, we are a single company.
Roller coaster ride
“The past few months have been a roller coaster ride that has forced us to diversify our offering and develop garments that we had never imagined we would handle before. We didn't just want to use the few opportunities that were available during the lockdown, we also wanted to do more for our existing customers who went through an even more difficult time than we ourselves.
Uniform rental is one of our unique services. We just buy the uniform and rent it out to the hospitality industry on a two-year contract that is paid for on a monthly basis with a weekly laundry cycle. About half of our customers use this, but since they had to close on March 23rd, they didn't generate any income themselves. For this reason, we have reduced our monthly contract fee by 50% by default during the entire blocking period. When our customers reopened on July 4th, we were flexible with our contracts, knowing that few will immediately revert to pre-lockdown levels. Our current plan is to match site openings of 50% or more with the contract level, but to treat each client's needs on a case-by-case basis. These are exceptional circumstances and everyone will need to change their practices to ensure that everyone can continue as before.
Strong presence in the UK
“Having a strong manufacturing presence in the UK has always been part of our identity. In the 70s and 80s, when so many draperies relocated their production abroad, all of a sudden we were using all highly qualified employees without work. Our commitment to the UK manufacturing sector has never waned, and we see that one of the few positive outcomes of this ordeal is for people to begin to see and appreciate the importance of a strong, indigenous manufacturing sector. When the global supply chain came under pressure, businesses big and small had to make up the deficit, and it would be a tremendous shame if we just re-imported most of our goods when things got back to normal. On a business level, it offers flexibility to our customers, and while so many of our competitors have simply closed down, we have been able to do our part in the national effort and this is a source of tremendous pride for us. It is up to all of us to support the right companies and the pandemic