Raymond to repurpose factories to churn out personal protection equipment

Hyderabad: Women workers busy in making surgical masks at a workshop in view of the coronavirus pandemic, in Balanagar industrial area in Hyderabad
Raymond, the brand and company, best known for making menswear and fabrics, has pivoted to use its factories to produce a suite of safety products which it calls Complete Care by Raymond. The new range, which is arguably the most exhaustive amongst that being made by larger companies, will include disposable and reusable masks, personal protection equipment suits in three price ranges, shoe covers, gloves and sanitizer  products that include hand washes and cleansers. While the company is clear that its addressing the needs of a pandemic, no sartorial attention has been lost in design judging by the range offered.

"This is the need of the hour. These products will be available too start with for  b2b customers and then consider the b2c segment in due course."  The products are in part being manufactured at the companies facilities in Bengaluru and in other part are being outsourced. While repurposing is the driving intent for now, Singhania adds that there was also an element of innovation that came into play. The Park Avenue compact fragrances containers we had were used to be converted into hand sanitizers," said Gautam Singhania, chairman and managing director, Raymond Group.

In light of the current situation, Raymond's protective gear is likely to be considered by industries, including hospitality, tourism, restaurants, and more. "Aviation, as and when it opens up will certainly need total precaution with regards to their staff and employees," Singhania said.

Raymond's products will be priced reasonably and at prices that are comparable to the rest of the market, Singhania said, adding, "This is not the time to profit."

Raymond's masks for example, include surgical three-ply masks, knitted washable masks, with or without stripes, curved knitted cotton masks and washable mask with filters. The more sophisticated masks include N-95 filter masks that block 95 per cent of particles. Then there're even jute masks and for the true nationalist and also khaki masks.  Raymond's gloves come in different ranges as well. The hand washes, sanitizers and masks will be retailed through stores once the lockdown is over, until which B2B will be the core driver said a Raymond official.

It is becoming the law of the land in states across the country for citizens to wear masks in public and include Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Chandigarh, Odisha and New Delhi. 

India has never been a mask manufacturing country and neither had a domestic industry, nor an export drive so supply chain and logistics may pose challenges, however, officials at Raymond see the opening up of cities in the next couple weeks making those challenges easier to tackle. Additionally, these are not bulk items and relatively easier to pack, transport and carry across to distributors and customers, the official added.

Across industries, other businesses are also reshaping their companies to create products and services that tackle the epidemic. Alcohol manufacturers like Diageo, Jagatjit Industries and others have already set up labs where they are manufacturing sanitizers at an industrial scale.

Kinetic  Green Energy and Power Solutions Limited, a manufacturer of electric vehicles, has launched a range of e-fogger and e-sprayers for disinfecting outdoor areas like public places, slums, large industrial campuses, hospitals, factories and  residential townships, said Sullaja Firodia Motwani, the company's founder. "We believe these need-of-the-hour segments will have greater demand in the coming months when the market are opened up, " she said.

Kinetic has also launched a portable UV sanitizer for disinfecting indoor areas like hospital rooms and offices.

"Ultimately, controlling the Coronavirus-19 epidemic and battling it is good but it is important that the markets are swiftly and tactically opened up so as to help support commerce," Singhania said.

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