Fabric and interlinings manufacturer Chargeurs Group is refocusing its production capabilities on protective masks and hydro-alcoholic gel in industrial quantities to help tackle the Covid-19 pandemic and address personal protection equipment (PPE) shortages.

The group says it is able to produce industrial quantities of hydro-alcoholic gel that is compliant with WHO recommendations, as well as large quantities of sanitary masks, especially surgical masks.

The gel will be produced at Chargeurs' Novacel site in Normandy, part of Chargeurs' Protective Films Division, with targeted production, depending on the accessibility of raw materials, of 5 tonnes a week over the next few weeks.

It aims to make more than 1m masks a week.

Chargeurs' textile innovation laboratories in France, Asia and the United States will also be developing new prototypes of masks that can be mass-produced to meet current health and safety requirements and to keep pace with changing needs over the long term. The group is also harnessing its Senfa Technologies laboratory for research into functional textiles in Alsace.

A number of industry players have taken steps to address increasing shortages in PPE due to the pandemic and constrained supply.

Swedish fashion retailer H&M Group is mobilising its supply chain to produce PPE to be delivered to hospitals and health care workers, while in the US, a coalition of apparel and textile firms has joined forces to build a supply chain to fast-track the manufacturing of medical face masks.

Elsewhere, chemicals manufacturer Huntsman Corporation is to begin making hydro alcoholic solution to produce hand sanitiser at its manufacturing site in Monthey, Switzerland; while Kering-owned luxury fashion labels Balenciaga and Yves Saint Laurent are preparing to manufacture surgical masks in their French workshops.

Sportswear giant Nike Inc has also said it is exploring designs for personal protective equipment to support doctors and nurses.