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Published: August 3, 2020 | Updated: August 3, 2020

Dorset Biz News round-up featuring Medworx, Okana employee relations, Jimmy’s Iced Coffee

By Andrew Diprose, editor

Government urged to place PPE contracts with British manufacturers

A manufacturer of Personal Protective Equipment has called on the government to support British makers of PPE.

The appeal, by Ferndown-based Medworx, follows reports that a contract for one billion PPE has been awarded to mainly foreign manufacturers.

In spring, the government centralised UK-wide procurement of PPE through Lord Deighton and the Ministry of Defence.

A reported 30,000 businesses registered but just 30 businesses – 0.1% of applications – have been awarded contracts for longer-term production of PPE.

Medworx, a specialist provider of PPE and Covid-secure solutions, has sought to access public sector contracts through this centralised procurement process on several occasions.

To date it has not been considered.

The company was established in March at the onset of the pandemic.

The original business, Mauveworx, manufactured point of sale marketing materials for retailers.

Directors recognised the need to pivot the business when the impact of the pandemic became clear, and Medworx was established to protect revenue and jobs.

It was one of the first UK manufacturers of PPE and, following an investment of £200,000 on new factory space, materials and 70 new members of staff, it has capacity to produce 200,000 certified PPE shields per week.

To date, Medworx has contracted directly with 34 NHS Trusts across the UK to supply over 2m pieces of PPE.

However, despite Medworx’s capacity and skills, it has not been awarded any new public sector contracts since the centralisation of UK PPE procurement was introduced by Lord Deighton.

A contract agreed with NHS Scotland for 185,000 PPE per week has now been cancelled as a result.

Toby Martin, Director at Medworx, pictured left, said: “We have worked incredibly hard to get up and running at speed to supply the NHS with much needed PPE.

“Our staff and I are incredibly proud of our role in helping to protect the UK’s heroic front line healthcare workers through the pandemic.

“However, the economic impact of Covid-19 is just becoming clear, and businesses like ours have adapted to continue trading.

“We have retained staff through lockdown and employed extra new staff to help meet the demand for PPE.

“We appreciate that the government needs to procure a huge number of vital PPE, some of which may come from overseas, but we think the government should also be prioritising supporting small and medium-sized UK businesses that employ thousands of people across the country.

“We stand ready and waiting to produce 200,000 PPE a week for the NHS, care homes and any other businesses that need it, and we hope that the government will notice and make use of our skills and capacity.

“If not, we may have to consider exporting our PPE to other countries at a time when the UK should be seeking to stand on its own two feet.”

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New services launched by employee relations specialist

An employee relations specialist has launched two new services aimed at law firms, employment solicitors and business owners.

Bournemouth-based Okana Ltd, headed by Managing Director Nathan Andrews, pictured left, has established an investigation service and also independent chairing facility.

Nathan, who founded Okana in 2017, said: “As an employee relations firm, my business is centred on supporting my clients to proactively manage the relationships they have with their employees by using transparent HR practices and UK employment law as a framework.

“The aim of my work is about creating and delivering people management practices which develop and maintain positive and meaningful working relationships between organisations and their people.

“The investigation service, and the additional service where I chair formal HR meetings for my clients, are particularly useful for small businesses with limited management structures who need an independent HR investigation or HR meeting conducted by someone who is unbiased and impartial.

“In addition, given the challenges that the coronavirus pandemic has presented, I have embraced technology and my business is now completely cloud based.

“I can support my clients fully on a remote basis so that any HR issues can still be effectively managed if a more strict form of social distancing returns.”

Before founding Okana, Nathan had HR roles with a number of companies and organisations including The Stable Family Home Trust, Aeronautical & General Instruments Ltd, AB Precision and Hall & Woodhouse.

He is a CIPD Level 7 qualified and accredited Senior HR Business Partner.

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Iced coffee delivered to your door by Jimmy’s

Dorset-based Jimmy’s has launched the UK’s only iced coffee subscription service.

People across the UK can now sign up to a monthly supply of iced coffee to be delivered straight to their door direct from Jimmy’s website.

The ready-to-drink iced coffees only contain Rainforest Alliance certified Arabica coffee, low sugar and are poured into 100 per cent recyclable packaging.

The idea came as the brand experienced a 3,000 per cent uplift in online orders during lockdown months.

Co-founder, Suzie Owen, said: “Subscription services make people’s lives even easier.

“Lockdown began the rise in online orders at Jimmy’s, an area we have never properly explored.

“As our online orders increase month on month we have listened to our customers and given them the choice to subscribe to our liquid gold”.

Subscriptions start with a 12-pack delivery of iced coffee for £18 or two cases or more a month to receive 15 per cent off.

Delivery is free.