A KEIGHLEY-based company has launched a specialist health division.

PFF Group, whose ‘traditional’ business is manufacturing food packaging, has set-up the new arm as it diversifies into producing personal protective equipment for the NHS.

The company, whose headquarters are in Royd Ings Avenue, won a major contract from the Department of Health and Social Care to make 360 million disposable polythene aprons.

As a result, the group has created 100 new jobs and invested more than £2 million in custom-built machines.

Now, Mark Foulger – who has worked with several large medical-device manufacturers – has been appointed commercial director of the new division.

He will report to group managing director, Kenton Robbins.

“Prior to the pandemic 90 per cent of personal protective equipment was imported from China – with buying based on price,” said Mr Robbins.

“With supply routes from China closing and huge demand, not just from the UK but from many other countries hit by similar shortages, the country desperately needed supplies. As a result, the UK had to establish a resilient and reliable supply in record time.

“As we were already in discussions with the Department of Health and Social Care about using our capability in plastics packaging to move into health-related products, we were delighted to quickly answer the call from Government for help to produce personal protective equipment here in the UK.

“Our new division will build on this expertise to move into other areas of healthcare production from our manufacturing bases.

“I am delighted to welcome Mark to our specialist health team. He brings extensive knowledge of both the NHS and private health sector in the UK and Ireland, which will be invaluable.”

Mr Foulger said PFF Health would play “a vital role” in helping the UK become more self-sufficient in the supply of personal protective equipment.

He added: “I’m very excited to join the company and proud to help the NHS, care sector and wider market gain access to quality British products.”

During the pandemic, the Government has expanded the UK’s personal protective equipment supply chain from 226 NHS trusts in England to over 58,000 different settings – including care homes, hospices and community care organisations.