Tibard: From Chef’s Apron to Scrubs
Since 1979, Tibard has been manufacturing and supplying uniforms to the hospitality industry, from some of the UK’s largest casual dining chains, such as Frankie & Benny’s, all the way to Michelin starred restaurants.
However, on the 16th March that all changed! When the UK Government advised the public not to visit pubs or restaurants, we watched our sales dry up overnight from 200 order dispatches a day to none. This left us with a predicament, as we had a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Tameside, Manchester with the capacity to produce over 15,000 garments a week not being utilised at a time when the NHS needed more and more specialist clothing.
We therefore got in touch with a range of our fabric suppliers to offer our services through existing touchpoints to meet the demand. Within 24 hours, we had transitioned from manufacturing chef clothing and aprons, to scrubs. We put in place hand sanitising stations and social distancing measures within our factory to best protect our amazing staff.
We were able to provide scrub suits to NHS Trusts and Care Homes throughout March, April and May but due to the work of businesses such as ourselves, volunteers and imports, the demand for scrubs eventually dried up. However, PPE gowns became the key shortage for the health service and we decided to work with a partner to develop our own reusable gown. Unlike the disposable ones previously used, this gown is made from a tougher fabric and can be thermally disinfected after use ensuring it can be worn multiple times before becoming waste. This is not only more sustainable but also of higher quality. We continue to manufacture these gowns and our production is still orientated for this.
Whilst our incredible production team were hard at work manufacturing scrubs and gowns, the rest of Tibard were busy researching and developing our own washable face mask. We knew that our traditional customers may be interested in extra equipment when they re-opened and we did not want the hospitality industry to turn to the overpriced products advertised on social media. A mask for restaurants, cafes, pubs and other venues needed to be comfortable, adjustable, triple layered and machine washable. The Tibard Face Mask was created to satisfy all these requirements at incredible value for a covering that can be used up to 50 times.
We have had to diversify our offering and develop garments we had never previously imagined. But as well as chasing the few opportunities that were available during lockdown we also wanted to go above and beyond for our existing customers who were going through an even tougher time than ourselves.
Having a strong manufacturing presence in the UK has always been part of our identity. Our commitment to British manufacturing has never wavered and one of the positives to come from this ordeal is that people are beginning to see and value the importance of having a strong, native manufacturing sector. When the global supply chain became pressed, businesses large and small were forced to make up the shortfall and it would be a tremendous shame if, when normality resumes, we go back to importing most of our goods.
From a business level, it provides you flexibility and while so many of our competitors simply had to close, we were able to do our part for the National Effort and this is a source of tremendous pride for us.