27 Sep 2021

More companies commissioning branded face masks for staff

11:28 am on 27 September 2021

Custom-printed face mask sales have soared after the latest Delta Covid-19 outbreak which has seen face coverings become mandatory in most indoor spaces.

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Photo: Supplied

It is a welcome boost for branding companies that had lost event work during lockdown.

Auckland company Custom Gear brands everything from drink bottles to wet wipes.

But since the country went into lockdown on 17 August, Custom Gear manager Lisa Gray said it had had an increase in sales of one product in particular: company-branded face masks.

"Probably about 50-60 percent of the work we're doing at the moment is all reusable masks. It seems like the Delta variant has made people definitely look into this a little bit more. Especially businesses and hospitality and stuff like that.

"We've done quite a few masks for clients who are back in level 2 and a lot of them were wanting to make sure that the thickness of them is the three-layer ply, making sure they've got the protections for their staff members," Gray said.

A day into the countrywide level 4 lockdown, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced masks would be mandatory inside all customer-facing essential businesses.

This means when you visit a supermarket or dairy you need to have a face covering on.

Gray said the company made more than 10,000 custom branded masks in recent weeks, for all different companies and purposes.

"We're really trying to determine what they're using it for exactly, and who there are for, so we can make sure we're offering them the best option for their people."

Custom Gear has worked with Kiwi Bank, Fletcher Building, 2 Degrees and Fonterra.

She said a lot of companies were making branded masks for their employees because it was eco-friendly and raised brand awareness.

"If their staff are wearing them on the bus or out when they're walking around the shops. It's that brand awareness mostly. Mask wearing is something we have to do, so you might as well try and get your brand out there at the same time."

However, there have been some supply issues.

"I think we got a little bit complacent in New Zealand because everything was going so fine for so long, so I don't think we had big stock availability when this sort of thing happened. A lot of our factories around New Zealand where we source our products from, they didn't actually have ample supply of what we needed," Gray said.

South Auckland based Prestige Products director Helen Northey said she had seen a similar increase since the beginning of the outbreak.

"There was very little interest prior to the outbreak it went from zero to hero overnight, with orders ranging in size from 100 to 1000 units."

She said she had a lot of interest.

"Advertising agencies, event organisers, retailers, real estate, schools, tradespeople, agriculture and produce ... from all sorts of different industries.

"One of my clients ... an electrician, he's ordered masks because his guys are going to be on sight."

Warehouse Group human resources chief Richard Parker said while there were no plans to introduce custom company face masks at this stage, it was something it had been considering since the start of the latest outbreak.

"Now we're all realising that even if there isn't a lockdown, mask mandates in some form, particularly in public spaces, are likely to continue, and I think more and more companies are going down that path," he said.

"It's certainly something that we see growing in prevalence and something we're going to continue to review."

Parker said some staff had been creating their own company branded masks to wear while on the job.

"They've done some really cool creative stuff creating their own branded masks ... we've been encouraging and supporting that, and we think that's great."

Auckland will learn next Monday whether the region will move from alert level 3 to Delta level 2.

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