Coronavirus update: Business news across the North West

Craig Holden, left, and Zayaan Rashid from Ultimate Products donating goods to Pathways to Opportunities

Oldham-based consumer products group Ultimate Products has donated £10,000 and provided support for a number of local charities since the outbreak of coronavirus and the subsequent lockdown measures.

The company said it is deeply aware of its responsibility to the community as a long-standing and significant employer in the region.

It has been working closely with Action Together, a local charity that is coordinating the COVID-19 response effort in the borough of Oldham alongside Oldham Foodbank and the council.

In the past few weeks Action Together has delivered food and household products to almost 2,000 people in vulnerable categories.

It has also supported other key Oldham charities to organise shopping and errands for those self-isolating, and has arranged volunteers to phone those who are lonely. Action Together also uses the donations and grants that it receives to issue micro-grants to other local charities and community groups.

In recognition of these efforts, Ultimate Products has pledged £10,000 to support the work of Action Together and is also encouraging other local businesses to do everything they can to support this cause.

In addition, the company has already donated large quantities of personal hygiene and cleaning detergent products to the charity. These and other goods are being delivered into the community to those who need them most.

Beyond its support for Action Together, in recent weeks Ultimate Products has also delivered:

  • 450 power banks to NHS frontline staff at Royal Oldham Hospital
  • 4,000 surgical face masks, as well as vacuum cleaners, toilet rolls, kettles, cleaning cloths and water, to Pathways to Opportunities, a Chadderton-based initiative supporting those with learning difficulties and complex needs
  • 17,000 travel mugs to NHS Foundation Trusts as part of wellbeing packages for NHS staff
  • Household stock including cookware, kettles, toasters, ovenware, ironing boards, cleaning cloths and headphones to multiple local charities, including Positive Steps Early Help Programme, an Oldham-based initiative helping young families in need
  • Kettles, toasters, soup makers, and blenders to Mustard Tree, a Manchester-based homeless charity which delivers 125 food parcels a day, and which had found that some recipients didn’t have the necessary appliances to cook the food in

In addition, the company’s employees have also been donating their free time. This has seen Ultimate Products employees making masks for key workers, joining nationwide initiatives such as the NHS Volunteer Responder scheme, and volunteering more locally for initiatives including B.Friend and Action Together.

Managing director Andrew Gossage said: “We are absolutely committed to doing everything that we can to provide much-needed support to local charities and endeavours that are working round the clock to help the people of Oldham during these extremely difficult times.

“We are a proud member of this community and a long-standing employer in Oldham, and it is both a responsibility and a privilege for us to be able to contribute financial support and household goods to fantastic organisations such as Action Together.”


A Runcorn company whose specialist visors are typically used in military – laser warfare as well as chemical, biological and nuclear attack – and industrial settings as well as mine clearance, bomb disposal and riot protection, has been called on in the fight against COVID-19.

But Supreme Visors had to wait for a delivery, via a beer wagon, of raw materials to stay in production, recently.

The firm is currently manufacturing 1.2m specialist visors to go into the PPE head shields for NHS Scotland.

It was contacted in mid-March by a company who make protective head gear who had secured the order from NHS Scotland.

Supreme Visors unloading from the beer wagon

Owner of the business, and engineer, Paul Ferguson, designed a new visor for the face shields over a weekend and production started in earnest with an extra shift laid on, plus increasing production to six days a week.

The company was manufacturing 48,000 visors per day and produced 300,000 before it ran out of the raw material.

However, this week Supreme Visors welcomed a beer lorry from France loaded with 16.5 tonnes of plastic from which it will start manufacturing a further 850,000 visors.

The balance of the 1.2m order will be completed as new plastic is sourced in the coming weeks.

Paul Ferguson said: “We are delighted to be able to put our expertise to use to assist in the country’s fight against the pandemic.

“I can tell you that the team were relieved to see the lorry from France pull into our factory site this morning, albeit a bit strange that it was a beer lorry.”


Floorbrite Group, a Sale-based cleaning and facilities management firm, has launched a specialist decontamination and sanitation service in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

With cleaning and sanitising being at the top of everybody’s agenda for the time being, The Floorbrite Group, which has been servicing companies in a range of sectors across the UK for the past 48 years, has extended its usual cleaning and facilities management services to provide an additional layer of protection for its clients.

It has also committed to donating 10% of all profit from the new service to the MCW Foundation, which offers funds to local charities in Cheshire assisting those in need during the pandemic.

Recently released evidence from the US Center for Disease and Prevention showed that the virus could be detected on certain surfaces for up to 72 hours.

At present, The Floorbrite Group is focused on supplying cleaning services across the country to businesses that are critical, essential services and must keep running and need to ensure the work place is safe and operational during this time.


A railway signaller is using his spare time to create visors for care workers on his 3D printer during the coronavirus pandemic.

Gary Knight is a Network Rail relief signaller in Barrow-in-Furness by profession, but a keen creator in his spare time.

When he learned about the PPE shortage for care workers in the UK, he and his wife, Anita, began creating protective visors for care workers, allowing them to stay safe at work as they care for vulnerable patients.

The frame for the visor is created on the 3D printer, then Gary and Anita attach a clear plastic sheet to create the protective screen.

Gary Knight wearing one of his 3D-printed visors

Initially, Gary was funding the project with money from working overtime shifts, but to keep up with the demand for the plastic visors he has been printing, he can’t take on as much extra work.

That was when fellow railway signaller Mark McGrath created a fundraising page to help Gary buy the equipment he needs to protect as many care workers as he can.

The money raised has helped Gary produce more than 1,500 visors so far and funded two more printers to increase production.

Gary said: “I first got into 3D printing about three years ago. Usually, I 3D print radio control model planes, which is my hobby.

“I started making visors when I watched a news report about people in care homes dying from coronavirus and finding out the staff didn’t have enough PPE. I knew I could do something to help that would be simple but effective.”

Network Rail staff are helping the effort by delivering the visors to care homes across the Lancashire and Cumbria regions in their vans as they continue to work in their essential roles.