PPE pivot pays off for Kilkenny’s Intosport Ltd.

Intosport was established in 1991 and has become one of Ireland’s leading manufactures of sportswear, but decided to pivot its operation during the Covid lockdown.

With school halls, gyms and sports centres closed during the Covid-19 lockdown, most companies that provide leisurewear saw demand reduce dramatically.

But some businesses, including Intosport Ltd, a supplier of sports, schools, and leisurewear, have started making hospital scrubs and reusable water repellent gowns in response to shortages and appeals from various sectors.

“We started to see the effects of Covid-19 very early on as clubs and schools waited to see what was going to happen and once the lockdown was confirmed, we had some large orders cancelled and found it difficult to get monies owed due to fundraisers being cancelled,” says Intosport managing director Jonny Dowling.

“We signed up for the wage subsidy scheme and began topping up the wages to ensure all staff were getting their regular income. Then after making the decision to pivot to PPE, we secured our first order of scrubs and the staff who were in a position to, returned to work. We also took on a further five people to cover the demand and speed up the processes.”

Safety first

Before production could take place, Dowling says the factory floor was reconfigured to allow more than two metres between machines and workstations, production was split into two teams over two floors and some staff worked either remotely or on evening shifts. They also closed the factory to the public and suspended face-to-face meetings between reps and customers.

“I don’t think there will ever be a better opportunity to change things that were not working within a business”

These new measures have worked very well and production on PPE is continuing apace, and the managing director says there has never been a better time for companies to try something different.

“The new PPE garments have been manufactured from the fabrics and materials which Intosport Ltd. would ordinarily use for their main range of products, so this has been very beneficial.

“And the response to the new line of production so far has been phenomenal with over 10,000 units produced to date. Production will continue as long as there is demand – which doesn’t seem to be slowing any time soon – as the next phase of dentists, physiotherapists and clinics have been requesting garments for reopening.

“I don’t think there will ever be a better opportunity to change things that were not working within a business.

“Although we are all in the same storm, we are in different boats. Don’t look at other businesses and compare yourself to them if they appear to be doing much better, as what you see on the surface is not always the reality.”

Written by Stephen Larkin

Published: 22 July, 2020