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Burberry retools factory to make non-surgical gowns and masks and funds vaccine research

Lauretta Roberts
28 March 2020

Burberry is contributing to the fight against COVID-19 by retooling its Yorkshire factory to make non-surgical gowns and masks, and is also helping to fund vaccine research and alleviate food poverty.

The British luxury house said it was "fast tracking" its global supply chains to deliver surgical masks, non-surgical masks and gowns for use by medical staff and patients, while also re-tooling its trench coat factory in Castleford to create non-surgical gowns and masks for patients.

Production and distribution of the gowns and masks will be subject to approval from the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), it has confirmed.

In addition Burberry is funding research into a single-dose vaccine developed by the University of Oxford that is on course to begin human trials next month. The University has one of the world’s best track records in emergency vaccine development, with past success in fighting Ebola and MERS.

Finally it is making a donation to charities, including FareShare and The Felix Project, dedicated to tackling food poverty across the UK.

Chief executive Marco Gobbetti said: “In challenging times, we must pull together. The whole team at Burberry is very proud to be able to support those who are working tirelessly to combat COVID-19, whether by treating patients, working to find a vaccine solution or helping provide food supplies to those in need at this time.

"COVID-19 has fundamentally changed our everyday lives, but we hope that the support we provide will go some way towards saving more lives, bringing the virus under control and helping our world recover from this devastating pandemic. Together, we will get through this.”

University of Oxford’s Head of Medical Sciences, Professor Gavin Screaton, added: “We are delighted with Burberry's generous support for the University's research into a vaccine for COVID-19. Burberry's gift is an example of forward-thinking corporate philanthropy that complements and bolsters government and other investment in Oxford’s leading global talent in this field. Donations like this have real and rapid impact, allowing us to be agile in our response, to accelerate this time-critical research."

Burberry has been hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis, which initially forced it to close all of its stores in China. It has since re-opened many of its stores in China but has been obliged to close most of its stores in Europe and the Americas as the virus spreads globally.

Fashion businesses around the world are engaged in helping to source and produce gowns and masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) to help support the fight against the virus. In France LVMH has sourced masks and is using its perfume factories to create hand sanitiser while Kering, parent of Saint Laurent and Balenciaga, is also switching production to create PPE.

In Spain Inditex and Mango have also been producing and sourcing masks and gowns and Swedish group H&M is opening up its supply chains to help produce and source PPE, along with Ralph Lauren in the US.

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