With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to have a devastating impact across the UK, it will be no surprise to most that the print industry is one of many that is suffering at the present time. The cancellation of exhibitions, shows and sporting events, along with businesses up and down the country closing – some temporarily but others sadly for good – means that traditional print doesn’t have anywhere near the demand that it did a couple of months ago.
Here at Solopress we have certainly experienced a slowdown in order volume which was to be expected. However, this has allowed us time to think about how we can use our machinery, suppliers and expertise to better help support businesses in the difficult weeks and months ahead, as well as how we can contribute to the national effort to fight back against the coronavirus.
Thanks to some of our hardworking team, we have been able to setup our production facilities to produce both protective full face shields and countertop sneeze guards in-house, both of which have been designed to stop the spread of airborne droplets and help to prevent this virus from spreading. We have located these on a newly-created Coronavirus Essentials page which also includes links to products that we have seen customers printing in order to share important information or to encourage social distancing.
Our face shields have been made using a clear PET material, which we treat with anti-fog spray and has an adjustable foam headband to make them comfortable and to ensure that they fit as many people as possible. They have been approved by the British Standards Institute (BSI) who have officially certified them as ‘safety eyewear for use by healthcare workers, first responders and other personnel involved in the efforts to contain the COVID-19 virus and avoid its further spread.’
Our countertop sneeze guards meanwhile are constructed of sturdy corrugated plastic with a clear Perspex screen and are designed mainly for shops and retail businesses. We have two standard sizes online but will always take orders for bespoke items should they be needed.
The feedback I have received so far has been extremely positive, and I’m genuinely delighted that we’ve been able to assist so many businesses. Naturally we have also been doing our bit to help where possible, having made free donations of these masks to nurses, key workers, care homes, and NHS dental hubs.
If we ever needed reminding, this pandemic has shown how extraordinary the people who work for the NHS are. In the grand scheme of things, our donations are drops in the ocean. However, with so many companies across the UK turning their attention to how they can contribute, I am proud that we are able to join them in these ways.
There is however another, very large requirement for PPE and germ protection that won’t necessarily jump to the front of people’s minds, and that is for the businesses and shops across the UK. As the lockdown is relaxed and these businesses start to slowly re-open, their number one priority will undoubtedly be the safety of their staff and customers.
Very few of these businesses will receive the donations of PPE that the NHS is, and nor would they expect to. Instead, they will be looking for ways in which they can introduce measures that offer protection but are also at a price that doesn’t eat into their already depleted resources. It’s for these businesses that we have launched our range of products that encourage social distancing and hand cleanliness such as floor vinyl’s, social distancing tape, and hand sanitiser stations.
We have kept our prices as low as we can once all of the costs of production have been factored in, which is evident when we compare our prices to other providers, and I’m pleased that so many customers have acknowledged this.
I would like to wish all businesses across the country the very best of luck for the coming months, particularly the small businesses and freelancers who are the backbone of our economy. We will have produced work for many of them in the past and look forward to continuing to support them in the future.
Slightly closer to home, I have a responsibility to the 250+ staff who rely on Solopress for a salary to keep our business running during this unprecedented downturn and beyond. With so many of our normal ‘best-sellers’ not being ordered in anything close to the numbers they would have otherwise been, diversifying our range to meet a new demand will help in these efforts.
I see this launch very much as a move that benefits all parties. British businesses will be able to purchase low cost, high-quality products that will allow them to complement their other safety and hygiene measures as well as keeping employees and customers safe. We also get to make use of our manufacturing capabilities, allowing us to make donations to NHS, support our customers both existing and new, while also ensuring that Solopress is ticking over until we’re able to get back to producing our more traditional printed products in the volumes that we are accustomed to.
I’d be happy to discuss our strategy for managing this crisis further, if you’d like to reach out to me my email is [email protected].