Luxury fashion house Burberry has been handed more than half a million pounds to make PPE equipment for the British health service, according to newly released UK government records.
The retailer had previously announced it would donate 100,000 items to healthcare workers back in April and was singled out for praise by England’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
Two months later, it was handed a £573,000 contract to make gowns and protective equipment.
The contract was not advertised to other potential suppliers, according to Government records which were published on Wednesday.
EU rules allow the Government to circumvent the usual processes if only one supplier is capable of delivering on the contract, or if unforeseen events mean that speed is vital.
During the early days of the pandemic several luxury fashion brands turned their production lines over to make desperately needed PPE.
Burberry’s Castleford site in Yorkshire retooled to produce gowns for healthcare workers.
It allowed to company to win the £573,000 contract, in addition to donations of around 160,000 pieces of PPE to date to the NHS and healthcare charities since the pandemic started.
This has included non-surgical gowns made at its Castleford site, and surgical masks that it bought abroad, points heavily publicised by the business.
At the start of April, Mr Hancock praised Burberry for its help in supplying the health service with the PPE it needed.
“I’ll give a shout-out to Burberry who have turned over their production to the production of gowns to add to the stockpile and to get PPE to people who need it which is another part of the national effort,” he said.
“I think Burberry deserve credit for what they’ve done so far for the nation and hopefully lots more Burberry gowns to come.”
Weeks later Burberry highlighted the PPE it had donated in an update to investors: “Our trench coat factory in Castleford is now manufacturing non-surgical gowns and supplying them to the UK National Health Service.
“We are also sourcing surgical masks through our supply chain and supplying them to the NHS and charities such as Marie Curie, which provides nursing care for families living with terminal illness in the UK. To date, we have donated more than 100,000 pieces of PPE.”
The UK government has previously faced criticism over some of the contracts it has signed during the height of the pandemic. Two weeks ago it was revealed that management consultants McKinsey had been paid more than half a million pounds for a less than month-long contract to provide a “mission and vision” for England’s new test and trace body.