Success stories

Keela expands to new factory during lockdown

Outdoor clothing experts, Keela expanded its facilities during lockdown as it strived to keep up with demand for NHS gowns, whilst ensuring the social distancing of its staff.

Keela Outdoors

The opening of the new facilitya 10,000 sq. ft. factory, the business’ fourth in Southfield IndustrialEstate, Glenrothes was very much a team effort. Work tables were borrowed from a local village hall, the team painted the whole factory, extra sinks were installed, and employees called in favours from family members to get gas and heat to the building!

The investment has been significant but, as Sam Fernando tells FBM’s readers, it’s been a wonderful experience. She said:

“Whilst there was an element of risk involved, we needed to be bold and provide a long-term solution to social distancing to ensure we could continue to manufacture our outdoor clothing, as well as produce gowns for the NHS. It wasn’t an easy task to purchase, refurbish and create new manufacturing facilities during lockdown, but the team stepped up.

Keela created 50 jobs during lockdown, which included up skilling students and young people, as well as re-training those who had been furloughed. The hope is to keep most of these roles as it continues to manufacture NHS gowns until at least December. Demand has also increased for frontline uniforms, as well as certain styles of outdoor clothing, as more people have been embracing the outdoors during lockdown.

Sam added:

“As lockdown eases, we are heading into uncertain times, but my hope is that the Government, recognising the vital role the manufacturing sector played in the pandemic, will continue to invest in the sector. Ultimately, I would like to see a significant percentage of the production of gowns remain here in the UK, while the Government also invests in training. The manufacturing sector can play an important role in keeping unemployment levels down.”

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