A Welsh company has nearly doubled its permanent workforce to 127 staff in just four months after switching part of its operations to create personal protective equipment (PPE) in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Based in Ystrad Mynach, Transcend Packaging specialises in providing sustainable packaging products to quick service restaurants including McDonalds and Starbucks. Converting some of its production lines and assistance from Life Sciences Hub Wales has allowed the company to supply over 15 million protective face shields to the NHS and UK Department of Health and Social Care since April.
The switch has helped to safeguard the jobs of over 70 employees as orders for the hospitality sector dropped during lockdown. Now, with restaurants beginning to reopen and orders for the industry picking back up, the company has initiated a recruitment drive, employing an additional 54 permanent staff and 30 agency workers to meet global demand for both its packaging and PPE.
The news comes as Transcend has been awarded more than £10m of funding, led by IW Capital, to facilitate the growth of the busines, which it will use to expand its range of paper-based packaging solutions to further reduce the quick serve industry’s dependence on single use plastics.
However, the first results from that investment will be felt locally as the ramping up process to meet the global demand fuels new job creation in South Wales.
The company will continue to produce PPE long-term alongside its regular sustainable packaging products to support the country’s journey out of lockdown back to normality, by providing staff across a range of sectors with protective equipment.
Lorenzo Angelucci, CEO at Transcend Packaging said: “The UK lockdown led to a significant drop in demand for our packaging so adapting our operations was critical to protecting the business. Since restaurants have reopened, orders have picked back up again, enabling us to return to producing products for the sector.
“Despite this, we plan on continuing to the manufacturing of face shields and coverings to help protect workers on the frontline and provide much needed protection to retail, hospitality and office staff as they return to their workplaces.
“Social distancing looks set to stay for the foreseeable, so our aim is to be part of the long-term solution by making a full suite of PPE products that can be used by employees across a range of settings, as well as the public. Increasing our workforce will be key to achieving this expansion and we are pleased to have been able to provide employment opportunities to people in the region.”
Transcend is currently manufacturing more than one million face shields a week with the capacity to double this to two million as circumstances warrant. As well as supplying the products to various settings across the UK, its shields have also been distributed internationally across Europe, Japan and the US.
Made from reinforced paper boards and recyclable materials, Transcend’s first face shields were designed for single use and to be recycled. The company has since introduced a new plastic free, fully compostable version, which has proven extremely popular with demand for the range increasing.
Transcend’s change in production came after the company contacted Life Sciences Hub Wales for guidance on the certification requirements its products would need to meet to be able to be offered to the NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership (NWSSP).
Life Sciences Hub Wales, which has been appointed by Welsh Government to manage all initial enquiries and offers of support from businesses on behalf of NHS Wales, worked closely with Transcend to help it adapt its production line and ensure its face shields met all necessary standards, including crucial CE certification.
Cari-Anne Quinn, CEO of Life Sciences Hub Wales said: “Across Wales, we have seen businesses working hard, adapting and innovating to offer their support in the national fight against Covid-19. Transcend is a primary example of this inspiring work and we are proud to have worked with them to help the company become certified to produce vital PPE.
“Transcend’s products have helped protect key workers all over the country and their efforts to help the frontline are commendable. In addition to supporting NHS Wales and health workers all over the world, their team’s drive to adjust and innovate is generating an economic boost and employment opportunities at a crucial time for Wales.”
Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport Lee Waters added: “The way Transcend Packaging has adapted its operations throughout this pandemic is a testament to its resilience and versatility.
“The company has not only survived but thrived as a result and is helping us in our efforts to protect people. It’s great news that new jobs have been created for those living locally at what remains an extremely challenging time for our economy.
“Life Sciences Hub Wales has been crucial in helping achieve this, and their efforts alongside Transcend Packaging shows what is truly possible when urgency and collaboration are combined.”