The Cardiff business that's branched into making PPE

PPE being manufactured at BCB International in Cardiff Credit: ITV Cymru Wales photo

Production is still in full swing at the BCB International plant in Cardiff, but the workers are all wearing masks and gloves and the items they're making are a bit different to usual too.

As well as making military equipment like tents, shark repellent and kits for lifeboat crews, the team is manufacturing products for a different war - the one being waged against coronavirus.

  • Video report by ITV correspondent Richard Morgan

Ann Wilson is a worker at the factory and her job is to make PPE kits for South Wales Police. As part of her work, she packs items into a pouch including a face mask, first aid leaflet and gloves. Each one will soon hang from the belt of an officer on front line duty.

It does make you feel good because you know you're helping other people, you're doing your bit

Ann Wilson - production line worker

The business also manufactures hand sanitiser, ventilator covers and fluid resistant gowns at its bases in Cardiff and Llanelli.

In May, over half a million gowns were flown into Cardiff airport from China, amid concerns that stocks were running low.

Boss Andrew Howell says he had to take on 35 extra staff to cope with demand.

The plant in Cardiff normally makes equipment for the military and lifeboat crews Credit: ITV Cymru Wales photo

That hostile environment has now come to Britain. We all know it's an invisible enemy but it's here amongst us. And saving and protecting lives is very important for us.

Andrew Howell - Director, BCB International

The Welsh Government says it's having to 'reconsider the balance' of the PPE it procures from overseas due to rising costs of items.

At the height of the pandemic, the NHS in Wales needed 50,000 gowns each week which means sourcing home-made equipment has become increasingly important.

We're definitely spending more, not just because we're buying more PPE, but because the cost has gone up. And it's part of the reason why we need to reconsider for the future the balance of what we procure overseas in PPE terms and what we want to produce here in this country.

Vaughan Gething MS - Minister for Health and Social Services

The company gets its name from John Collis Browne, a nineteenth century army doctor who invented 'Brown's Cough Bottle', a nineteenth century cure-all medicine used during the Crimean war.

Its product 'Doctor Brown's Hand Sanitiser' is named in honour of Browne.

170 years on, the good doctor is lending his name to another fight, against an unseen but deadly foe: Covid-19.