Merseyside uniform supplier suits up to get PPE to NHS front line
A Merseyside family-owned supplier of uniform to the hospitality, spa and leisure sector is supporting the NHS with the production of PPE during the coronavirus pandemic with support from Lloyds Bank.
Prescot-based Florence Roby specialises in the high-quality design and manufacture of uniforms across a range of sectors including hospitality, premium beauty, hotel, spa and leisure.
However, when the UK lockdown was announced, many of Florence Roby’s well-known customers including Champneys, Clarins, Viking Cruises and Everton Football Club, were forced to close their doors. This meant the business’ usual volume of orders, which saw them producing 10,000 uniforms per month, fell to almost zero – forcing the business to temporarily shut its factory and furlough 20 of its staff.
Turning to longstanding banking partner Lloyds Bank, managing director Steve and his wife Janet were able to secure a six-figure loan through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and a capital repayment holiday. This enabled the business to cover fixed overheads and divert its resources towards providing personal protective equipment (PPE) to teams on the frontline of the NHS. Now it has achieved the Home Office approval and certification required to begin producing essential PPE like surgeons’ gowns and drapes for hospital trusts including Alder Hey.
Machinists at the business have also been supporting their local community by using material provided by Florence Roby to produce and donate face masks to a number of care homes in the local Liverpool area, as well as some non-Covid patients at Aintree Hospital.
Florence Roby was founded by its namesake as a bespoke tailor in 1968. Current managing director Steven Roby followed in his mother’s footsteps, learning to cut patterns on the dining room table after school and eventually joined the family business. From its factory in Knowsley Business Park, the business now has a global customer base, exporting stock to customers in Europe, Australia, the USA and UAE.
Steven Roby, managing director at Florence Roby, said: “Florence Roby is now in its third generation as a family business and when the pandemic struck, our immediate priority was to ensure our team of highly-skilled staff could continue to meet their commitments and support their own families as well.
“Not only has this funding allowed us to safeguard jobs for our team of 25 staff, but it’s also given us the financial headroom to play our part in supporting the wider community and the NHS’ response to the pandemic.”
Gavin Lynch, relationship manager at Lloyds Bank, said: “coronavirus has had a huge impact on the hospitality, beauty and leisure industries, and the businesses within its supply chain.
“Florence Roby is a fantastic example of a dynamic Liverpool business that has not only shown resilience in the face of completely unprecedented times but has also taken a proactive approach to supporting its community.
“We’re committed to supporting businesses like Florence Roby throughout the coronavirus crisis, helping them tackle immediate challenges and prepare for the future.”