Dunelm to make medical gowns in curtain factory

Furniture maker Dunelm is retooling a curtain factory to make medical gowns for NHS workers, the company said on Thursday as its online site resumed operations.

The business said it is working with the NHS to re-purpose its curtain production site in Leicester, although it is not using curtain materials to make the gowns.

Meanwhile, Dunelm’s online site is back up and running after a phased restart. Apart from some two-man jobs, which are expected to start next week, deliveries are now “fully operational”, the business said.

It comes as chief executive Nick Wilkinson agreed to take a 90% pay cut for the next three months, and the chairman and non-executive directors of the company waived all of their fees.

Mr Wilkinson said: “We remain focused on doing the right thing for our colleagues, customers and the communities where we operate, and I am pleased that we have safely reopened our online operations.

“I am immensely grateful for the dedication and commitment of our colleagues and supplier partners who have demonstrated great agility and determination in a dynamic and unprecedented situation.

The business is trying to save as much cash as it can, as it tries to stay afloat while stores remain closed across the country.

Dunelm said it had been told it is eligible to get support loans from the Bank of England to stay above water. But it should not need to tap into these unless all its stores are closed for more than six months, the business said.

Mr Wilkinson added: “Whilst many uncertainties remain, we have ensured that Dunelm and its many stakeholders will be well supported through this difficult period and are confident that we will emerge from this crisis as a stronger business ready to return to sustainable and profitable growth.”

The retailer is working to make sure that its stores are set up to comply with social distancing guidance when they are allowed to reopen.