Apparel Supply, a Waterford family business, employing 35 staff, established its Industrial division in 1985 and its Sportswear division, under the Azzurri brand in 2000. The company is presently adding a further 30 staff, as it develops a new medical device face mask production facility in workLAB, IDA Industrial Estate, Waterford.
With the advent of COVID-19, the Azzurri sports line was facing indefinite closure and management took the decision to move into the manufacturing of reusable face masks, initially distributed free to regional nursing homes, voluntary groups, and community groups.
As the worldwide shortage of critical medical products was making the headlines, Enterprise Ireland contacted Apparel Supply to enquire about its capacity to increase production of reusable barrier masks and its capacity to introduce the production of disposable medical face masks. The enquiry formed part of a wider national supply plan, led by Enterprise Ireland, to develop more indigenous suppliers of critical medical products.
Apparel Supply accepted the challenge and the opportunity it presented, and over a very short period, developed a new medical device production facility in workLAB. In addition to the installation of new machinery and the recruitment of new staff, the company successfully completed ISO 13485 certification for production of Class 1 Medical Devices and certification of its medical face masks to EN 14683 Type IIR. The company today produces Guaranteed Irish, CE marked, medical face masks made to the highest International standard.
Presently Apparel Supply supplies its Swift 19 Re-usable facemasks to companies such as Teva, Bausch and Lomb, Eli Lilly and UPMC, and its EN14683 disposable medical masks to the HSE, while actively developing new customers in Ireland and overseas.
According to Corinna Dower, General Manager of Apparel Supply, the expansion has been a real team effort. “The sustainability and growth of the business was only possible through the support of so many, in particular the HSE for the opportunity to supply our product and Enterprise Ireland for considering us as part of the indigenous national supply plan and ultimately their support in the development of our new medical facility.”
“There was a lot of encouragement with the level of local and financial support from Ulster Bank, Local Enterprise Office Waterford, for their initial support of the reusable production line, and local representatives Minister of State Mary Butler TD, and Matt Shanahan TD.”
“Without doubt, our team deserves a huge amount of credit for their massive efforts in implementing this new medical device facility at workLAB in such a short period of time.”
Tom Kelly of Enterprise Ireland added, “We acknowledge the responsiveness and adaptability shown by Apparel Supply since the outbreak of COVID-19. As a family run Irish business, with over 35 years proven experience in the production of quality protective and sports apparel, selling in Ireland and overseas, we are happy to support the company in the introduction of a new medical face mask plant in Waterford and the creation of 30 new positions.”
The company plans to further expand its facemask production to include a wider range of face masks, including FFP2 masks. Also, in consideration of the huge environmental impact of single use disposable masks, the company in partnership with WIT Seam and Ulster University, is further researching and developing its reusable face mask range.
As a proud local company, Apparel Supply continues to distribute free facemasks to charities and voluntary groups.
For further information email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.apparelsupply.ie