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Bury St Edmunds company Burroughs Direct Mail moves into mask making to meet PPE demand during Covid-19 pandemic




A family-run business has swapped printing football programmes for making masks and is now looking for companies to supply.

Burroughs Direct Mail in Western Way, Bury St Edmunds, was forced to halt its print finishing production when the pandemic hit, with its six staff going on furlough.

But amid the turbulent time, business owner Lee Burroughs saw an opportunity. He said: “Most of our summer work is printing exhibition and football programmes, and all of that fell off a cliff. We were not eligible for any Government grant support because of our rateable value, and we could not do anything.

Lee Burroughs with his son Oliver Burroughs. Picture by Mark Westley.
Lee Burroughs with his son Oliver Burroughs. Picture by Mark Westley.

“We went on furlough around the time the whole PPE fiasco happened. There was nothing being made in the UK. The machinery needed to make masks is very similar to what we have here already, so I contacted the Government.”

Mr Burroughs found help from the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, with the Norfolk and Suffolk business supportive operation agreeing to fund 50 per cent of the project to get them up and running. Under the new guise of BD Masks, Mr Burroughs was able to adapt existing equipment and implement new models to change around the operation.

“We partitioned part of our premises to maintain a clean environment, sourced materials, created a new website and (made) packaging for the product,” he said.

Lee used to run a print finishing company in Bury St Edmunds. Picture by Mark Westley
Lee used to run a print finishing company in Bury St Edmunds. Picture by Mark Westley

The Local Enterprise Partnership grant was received in December.

The three-ply face masks they produce are the disposable consumer variety commonly seen worn around town – the difference being that these masks were probably manufactured in the UK. Mr Burroughs says these are safer than the washable kind.

“I think face masks will be around for some time,” he said. “We have sold about 10,000 and have stock of around half a million.

Lee has said he believes British products could and should be made in Britain if possible. Picture by Mark Westley.
Lee has said he believes British products could and should be made in Britain if possible. Picture by Mark Westley.

“We are looking to advertise on Facebook and LinkedIN, but we are trying to get local companies involved to support each other. It makes sense for me to keep jobs in the UK.”

Their current production is ‘just a drop in the ocean,’ according to Mr Burroughs, who is looking to expand beyond the current personnel – which includes his son and daughter.

Masks are on sale in boxes of 50 for £9. The business also successfully applied for membership of Made in Britain, an exclusive manufacturing community.

Mr Burroughs added: “We would like to express our sincere thanks to the Local Enterprise Partnership for not only providing the funding but their continued help and advice along what has been a very challenging journey.”

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