Marketplaces can provide a direct channel for brands to get vital PPE supplies to those who need them. One provider that has worked with the French government to set up a pro bono marketplace for coronavirus PPE protection says it could do the same in the UK - and for other goverments around the world.
Marketplaces provider Mirakl has worked with the French government to create an online platform, StopCovoid19.fr which has enabled brands to provide frontline medical staff with more than 6.7m face masks and 550,000 litres of hand sanitising gel to frontline medical staff and critical workers in the two weeks since it launched.
Currently 47 manufacturers, including Clinique, Shiseido, Arkema and Seqens, have signed up to sell or donate the relevant equipment. About 3,000 organisations have used the marketplace to get access to equipment for their workers, including hospitals, French national rail company SNCF, its postal service La Poste and food brand Danone. CHU Hospital in Nevers, France, for example, received 1,000 litres of hand sanitising gel.
The French platform was launched within 48 hours and has now been in operation for two weeks. Mirakl is providing and maintaining the platform for free, and many manufacturers are donating rather than selling goods.
Mirakl chief executive Philippe Corrot said: “This platform is a testament to the power of collaboration: bringing together tech, government, producers and distributors into one place. It’s a testament to the agility and efficiency of businesses to expand their reach and range, and pivot into any category depending on the need. And most importantly, this platform is a testament to the people who, in times of great need, have come together to do great things.
He added: “We are proud to be working with the French government on such an important initiative, and we hope to extend the service to other markets and support healthcare professionals around the globe.”
Such a marketplace could help to connect the brands keen to supply the NHS and other emergency workers with equipment, at a time when many are increasingly desperate for supplies. Today the chief executive of one UK NHS Trust is reported by the BBC to be looking to ring around manufacturers looking for gowns as hospitals in that unnamed trust are close to running short of equipment. UPDATE: The BBC has now corrected this report to make it clear that the person who contacted them was not a trust chief executive but part of a network of organisations sourcing PPE for some NHS trusts.
Elsewhere, Barbour is already making gowns for its local hospitals in Newcastle, while Burberry is close to starting gown production on a retooled production line. Lancashire Textiles, based in Burnley, is making face masks.