Tanning group PrimeAsia has confirmed that it restarted operations at its tannery in China on February 10, following an extended period of inaction at the end of the Lunar New Year holiday because of coronavirus, reports Leatherbiz.
It said 33% of the workforce at the tannery, in Huangjiang, Guangdong Province, either lives on site in dormitories or in their own homes nearby.
PrimeAsia put its Chinese tannery into lockdown when it learned of the spread of coronavirus. It said people living onsite or in the local area remained in quarantine until February 10 and that none of them tested positive for the virus. In total, these employees represent around 33% of the total PrimeAsia China workforce.
The other 67% of PrimeAsia China’s workforce travelled to their home provinces for the new year holiday. The group said it had set up communications networks that had allowed it to keep in contact with most of these employees and that none of them had contracted coronavirus. People it has, as yet, been unable to reach make up around 25% of the total PrimeAsia China staff.
During the unplanned closure at Huangjiang, the group was able to transfer orders for uncoloured hides for delivery to customers outside China to its PrimeAsia Vietnam facility. Production of leather articles that make up part of its regular, forecast output, increased at PrimeAsia Vietnam to compensate for the situation in China.
There are products that the group only makes in China and it was unable to transfer these, but it said it had done everything possible to mitigate any interruption caused by the coronavirus in China. This included asking key members of its team who spent the Lunar New Year holiday outside China to work in Vietnam immediately after the holiday and contribute to the increase in production there rather than return to Huangjiang for the time being.
By the week commencing February 17, it expects to be able to operate at close to 80% of capacity at PrimeAsia China, with all areas of the tannery operational.
It said its commercial teams will be in touch with all customers to discuss how best to meet immediate orders while production ramps up again, pointing out that it has stocks of some leathers in its range prepared in advance of the normal, anticipated seasonal surge. It said it would do “everything in our power” to meet customer needs.
However, the company added: “It is important for all of us to recognise that this is still very much a fluid situation and at any moment the circumstances on the ground could change.”
It insisted that keeping its employees safe and healthy remains its first priority. It will maintain “a stringent health-monitoring protocol” at PrimeAsia China, designed to continue to keep people healthy and safe. No-one will enter the site without temperature checks and mask protection. Regular two-hour temperature checks will be taken and recorded for all personnel on site. Large gatherings of people and workers will not be permitted and visitors will be discouraged from going to the site.