John Smedley is providing a safe environment to its employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. The company has the oldest manufacturing factory in the world, crafting beautiful, high quality garments that are designed to last and distributed the world over. Ian Maclean, the managing director of the company discussed the effects of the pandemic on its business.
The company ran a two-stage temporary shutdown of its business in March 2020. In response to the government lockdown order, they closed three shops in London on the March 20, 2020, and then we took the decision to shut down our two factories on the March 27, 2020.
“We furloughed around 320 of our 365-strong workforce, covering manufacturing, retail and most managers. We committed to paying 80 per cent of pay and topping this up above the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme’s £2,500 limit. The directors accepted a 20 per cent pay cut. Most of those who are retained are working from home and following all the necessary Public Health England guidelines,” Maclean said in a UKFT press release.
“Our online business is still open and trading – it is our only source of income right now. Our customer service team are processing the orders and responding to customer queries from home. A dedicated team of volunteers is working in the warehouse to ship goods out. I am also working in the warehouse every day with our team and we are following all correct health precautions,” he said.
“Our top team are already thinking about a project we are calling ‘Work Safe’. Our health and safety officers are gathering best advice from Public Health England, the Health and Safety Executive, the Unions and other manufacturing companies who are thinking along the same lines,” Maclean said.
“Anyone who visits a supermarket to shop will have seen how quickly these organisations have adapted their spaces to the new situation – and they are still learning. We are brainstorming ideas for re-arranging work processes in the factories to maximise distances between work stations, mapping one-way routes through the work rooms, designing barriers (like the Perspex ones you see appearing in the shops), planning enhanced cleaning rotas, and searching for the right PPE for staff to use,” he added.
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