Warwick-based business suffers significant losses after reacting to a ‘call to arms’ to produce PPE - only to be overlooked by the Government

Contechs warned it may need to make nearly 80 staff redundant when Government financial support ends

A Warwick-based business says it has suffered significant losses after reacting to a ‘call to arms’ to produce PPE - only to be overlooked by the Government.

Contechs launched a medical division last November to begin producing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

It was responding to a regional ‘call to arms’ by West Midlands mayor Andy Street in April.

PPE produced by Tecman.

But after spending hundreds of thousands of pounds producing PPE, the firm found no domestic avenues for its sale.

Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western said the government instead imported cheap equipment from overseas, mainly Turkey and China.

Leamington firm Tecman Advanced Healthcare Products also set up a manufacturing hub for PPE in May amid national stock shortages.

Bosses said they were ‘disappointed’ after being overlooked for an NHS PPE contract – but have since expanded and successfully marketed abroad.

PPE produced by Tecman.

Contechs has warned it may need to make nearly 80 staff redundant when Government financial support ends – while they have suffered significant losses.

Tecman is much more optimistic with the promise of an NHS contract for its sustainable PPE still in the pipeline – though it appealed for the support of Matt Western MP to secure the deal.

Contechs managing director Peter Jarvis said: “We answered the call to arms with all good intentions.

“Now we just want to see a coherent long-term strategy which involves the companies that responded. At the moment it is total uncertainty for many.

Matt Western MP on his visit to Tecman.

“We should be allowed to continue in a sustainable fashion and not be left in a situation with indebtedness and unrecovered capital expenditure.”

Tecman managing director Kevin Porter added: “The Government has gone to immense effort to try and procure enough PPE for the NHS during an unprecedented pandemic.

“However, as the immediate crisis abates, we would like to see future procurement decisions weighted towards UK manufacturers and products that provide ecological benefits, in addition to being equitable, fair and competitive on price.”

Mr Western repeated his concerns from last April and raised the plight of automotive company Contechs in Parliament last week.

Kevin Porter, lead engineer Hannah Rosen and marketing manager Jo Talbot at Tecman.

He has called on Contechs and other regional firms that suffered financially after being overlooked for PPE contracts to be reimbursed by the government.

He also called for the two firms in his constituency to be prioritised for any future NHS contracts.

Mr Western said: "The government’s appeal came after a decade of cuts to public services in which PPE stocks were decimated.

"In the midst of the crisis, the Department for Health signed off contracts with Conservative Party donors, companies with no prior experience and chums of the Secretary of State – with the equipment purchased sometimes unusable.

“Contechs in my constituency has taken a big hit to its revenues as a result of this betrayal.”

A Department for Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We have been working tirelessly to deliver PPE, with more than 8.8 billion items delivered to the frontline so far and almost 32 billion items ordered to provide a continuous supply, which will meet the future needs of health and social care staff.

“The government has prioritised the diversification of UK supply chains of PPE – not just looking to new suppliers abroad, but also significantly ramping up our UK manufacture.

"We are proud UK manufacturers are now able to supply 70 per cent of the PPE required, thanks to the extraordinary response to our call to action to supply PPE to the frontline.”