Up to 65 job losses at Dumfries PPE manufacturing site

Alpha Solway offices in Dumfries Credit: Alpha Solway

Scottish PPE manufacturer Alpha Solway, part of Globus Group, has announced that it will consolidate its manufacturing operations in Scotland, after a significant decline in NHS orders for its products.

It means the company is closing its Dumfries site,  built in a matter of weeks at the start of the Covid pandemic, with the loss of up to 65 jobs.

The Dumfries site was one of three facilities developed by Globus as part of a £50m investment to provide a resilient and reliable supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the UK amid global shortages.

The company delivered 252 million masks to frontline NHS staff during the pandemic.

Alpha announced last month it had begun a review of operations and staffing at the Dumfries site, due to the significant financial impact caused by the lack of NHS orders, which had stopped for several months.

The significant stockpile of PPE built up during the pandemic means that Alpha is unlikely to receive any new NHS Scotland orders for the foreseeable future.

Following the conclusion of its review the company has decided to consolidate operations, closing the Dumfries factory and transferring manufacturing equipment to other sites.

A formal consultation process and discussions with staff have commenced, and it is anticipated around 65 jobs will be made redundant.

Alpha Solway Director Steven Binnie said: “Our response to the Covid-19 pandemic focused on delivering a resilient and reliable supply of PPE for NHS staff. Our investment was made on the basis of ongoing orders which would provide long-term resilience of supply in the UK.

“Unfortunately, these orders have stopped in recent months with significant financial impact.

“Following the review we announced last month we are therefore taking the difficult decision to consolidate our manufacturing capacity and close one of these sites.

“We are very thankful for the hard work done by our colleagues over the last two years to deliver millions of masks to NHS staff when they were desperately needed.

“This decision has been taken to stem significant losses, which have been sustained for many months.

“Machines from the Dumfries facility will be transferred for use at other sites and while overall capacity will be reduced, we’ll retain significant manufacturing capability.

“Alpha Solway’s commitment to Scottish manufacturing, the Scottish Government and NHS Scotland remains undiminished and our other site in Dumfries, built with support from South of Scotland Enterprise, will remain open and will continue to look for a market for its raw material production as well as supporting our remaining sites.”

When Alpha launched a review of operations at Dumfries last month, MSPs and MPs raised concerns over the Scottish government’s procurement policies.

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth called on First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to urgently investigate the Government’s approach to the purchase of PPE and the stopping of NHS orders; “so that we can avoid any further job losses at Alpha Solway and ensure that we have the vital future PPE resilience that we need?”.

Mr Smyth said: “One of the biggest lessons from the pandemic is the need to never again find ourselves in a position as a country where we have to rely on importing PPE, given the huge challenges we had over securing supplies.

“It is vital that PPE is manufactured here in the UK where we can better secure supplies if, and when, it is needed. It is also madness from an environmental point of view to rely on importing PPE from the other side of world when we could be making that product here in Scotland.”