Burberry has announced a raft of initiatives designed to support global efforts to combat the outbreak of Covid-19, including the delivery of thousands of surgical masks.
The British fashion house said the plan will help meet the most immediate medical and community needs while supporting the development of a long-term solution to the pandemic.
Its trench coat factory in Castleford, Yorkshire has been retooled to make non-surgical gowns and masks for patients. All garments will be subject to approval from the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to ensure they meet regulations.
Additionally, Burberry has offered to use its global supply chain network to fast-track the delivery of over 100,000 surgical masks to the NHS, for use by medical staff.
And the company is funding research into a single-dose vaccine developed by the University of Oxford. Due to begin human trials next month, the vaccine is one of several being tested by different companies in the race to find a cure to the health crisis. Burberry said the University of Oxford has one of the world’s best track records in emergency vaccine development, with past success in fighting Ebola and MERS.
Finally, the brand is donating an undisclosed sum to charities dedicated to tackling food poverty across the UK, such as FareShare and The Felix Project. This will support efforts to help those struggling to get food as a result of the outbreak, with community produce hubs, food delivery for children who rely on free school meals and pre-packed food parcels.
Burberry didn’t say how much these initiatives will cost, but in a trading update released on 19 March, the luxury firm admitted that the fourth quarter of the year ending 28 March will be significantly impacted by the coronavirus crisis.
Comparable retail sales fell by up to 50% globally during February and early March, and a large portion of the brand’s retail portfolio has had to close in recent weeks, leading to further sales losses. But Burberry’s online store continues to operate as normal and the company is still taking online orders.
CEO Marco Gobbetti said: “In challenging times, we must pull together. The whole team at Burberry is very proud to be able to support those who are working tirelessly to combat Covid-19, whether by treating patients, working to find a vaccine solution or helping provide food supplies to those in need at this time.”
University of Oxford’s head of medical sciences, Professor Gavin Screaton, added: “We are delighted with Burberry's generous support for the University's research into a vaccine. Burberry's gift is an example of forward-thinking corporate philanthropy that complements and bolsters government and other investment in Oxford’s leading global talent in this field. Donations like this have a real and rapid impact, allowing us to be agile in our response, to accelerate this time-critical research.”