March 6, 2020 / 6:57 PM / 3 months ago

Coronavirus spread prompts antibacterial gel maker to speed output

VERTOU, France (Reuters) - Belgian hygiene and cleaning products maker Christeyns has tripled its production of antibacterial gel, as demand for hydroalcoholic products explodes due to the coronavirus outbreak that has killed more than 3,300 people worldwide.

In its factory in the western French city of Vertou, the company has ramped up capacity to allow it to produce three thousand tons of antibacterial gel a year instead of about one thousand normally.

The number of people infected with coronavirus across the world surpassed 100,000 on Friday as the outbreak reached more countries and the economic damage intensified, with business districts beginning to empty and stock markets tumbling.

Many people have been asked to stay home from work, schools have been closed, large gatherings and events canceled, stores cleared of staples like toiletries and water, and face masks have become a common sight.

“The crisis is global. The demand is global as well”, Christeyns France’s chief executive Peter De Grove told Reuters. “The demand has been exploding incredibly.”

The French government decided on Wednesday to regulate the price of antibacterial gels after prices were reported to have increased heavily since the coronavirus outbreak has begun.

But De Grove said that the company had not increased the price of its antibacterial products despite increasing demand, as the group wants to build a long-term relationship with customers.

He expects the crisis to be a game changer for the whole industry.

“Our business will be a growing business for the next coming years wherever you are in the world”, De Grove said.

Reporting by Udi Kivity and Ardee Napolitano; Writing by Matthieu Protard; Editing by Jan Harvey

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