Yorkshire entrepreneur backs innovative hygiene product

Surfaceskins the developer and manufacturer of an innovative hygiene product, which can kill germs and superbugs such as coronavirus has secured a significant six figure investment from an experienced Yorkshire businessman.

The firm which makes a self-disinfecting, alcohol gel pushpad, has seen demand steadily grow since it launched to market in 2016, but with a pandemic on global hands business is booming,

The product is the result of eight years of work by product designers, Adam Walker and Simon Scott-Harden alongside Leeds-based technical textile consultancy, the Nonwovens Innovation and Research Institute Ltd (NIRI) which also funded initial development.

Since then, the firm has secured further investment from Brian Waligora, who joined Surfaceskins as chief executive in 2017.

Now as the businesses looks to increase production capacity it has secured a sizable six figure investment from George Page, who joins the business as a director. Page brings 23 years of production, manufacturing and business experience, having been part of the growth of Yorkshire pet food firm Inspired Pet Nutrition – which includes brands Harringtons and Waggs.

This funding has enabled the firm to move into new production facility in Tockwith and it commission new automated machinery that will to at least triple its production output and support the firms growth.

Brian Waligora, chief executive of Surfaceskins told TheBusinessDesk.com that the firm had seen a spike in demand since the outbreak of COVID-19. He commented: “We thought we were progressing pretty well prior to the crisis and then COVID hit and we immediately had a bunch of enquiries, as the virus was spreading.”

He emphasised it hasn’t just been the health care sectors which have been looking to the innovative product. Adding, “As people prepare to return to work, we’ve been inundated with enquiries from businesses, distributors and facility management companies and from all different sectors, including people that are looking to reopen cinemas, schools and office buildings.”

Interestingly for the business it appears that the the pandemic has also helped it to increase its domestic market.

Waligora explained, “Prior to the pandemic 95% of our production was going overseas. We had good traction in the Middle East, southern countries of Africa, and some in the Far East, which having had SARS a few years ago so they seemed much more sensitive about the issue of hand hygiene

“But since COVID, and especially [since] the return to work focus; we have seen a big increase in domestic enquiries.”

NIRI managing director, Chris Fowler, who has 25 years’ experience commercialising novel medical and hygiene products, commented: “Surfaceskins’ has huge market potential having been developed with efficacy, ease of use and low cost at the forefront of its strategy and our new investor joins when his experience will have the biggest impacts.

“However, as more sectors have become aware of Surfaceskins, we are receiving interest from restaurants, fast-food outlets, cruise ships, hotels, schools and offices. Virtually any commercial, or public, door with a contamination risk is a market opportunity.

“Garbutt + Elliott quickly realised the scale of the Surfaceskins’ potential, enabling them to recommended the most suitable investment partner who was the first introduction and is a perfect fit in terms of experience, timing and Yorkshire roots!”

The deal was brokered by Yorkshire accountants and business advisers, Garbutt + Elliott. Corporate finance partner at the firm, Tony Farmer, who introduced the investor and arranged investment terms, commented: “The combination of a simple, but ingenious, idea, expert business development and major market interest means, Surfaceskins has huge growth potential and we are pleased to have contributed by securing the latest investment.”

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