Thursday, 25 February, 2021

In Angers, a factory of protective masks is collapsing under demand


At the Kolmi-Hopen factory in Angers, these past few days. – LOIC VENANCE / AFP

The factory of the Kolmi-Hopen company which manufactures sanitary masks – surgical masks and protective masks – from polypropylene near Angers (
Maine-et-Loire) says they are drowning in demands because of the epidemic of
coronavirus, we learned from its general manager.

In this company which produces up to a million protections per day on its production lines, the masks parade by the kilometer. Stored in cardboard boxes, the medical protections then reach a vast storage location, and some will leave on Monday for Asia, France and the rest of Europe.

“Requests to make more than 500 million masks”

“In a normal period, we manufacture more than 150 million medical masks per year and more than 20 million protective masks per year. Today, with the demand that is exponential, we would have requests to make more than 500 million masks all together, “said Gérald Heuliez, CEO of Kolmi-Hopen.

This SME based in Saint-Barthélemy-d’Anjou, on the outskirts of Angers, is associated with the Canadian group Medicom and currently employs 102 people. She hopes to hire around 30 people in the coming days to meet international demand related to the coronavirus.

Chinese factories no longer export

According to Gérald Heuliez, China and Taiwan, which usually “must supply more than 80% of the world market” in protective masks and surgical masks, have stopped their exports to dedicate all of their mask production to local needs, explaining the current pressure on a factory like his.

The products requested are surgical masks, usually worn by surgeons to protect the operating field and protective masks, which are tighter on the face and usually used to protect against very fine particles, for example in an environment where the ‘we are handling wood or flour,’ he explained. Polypropylene fibers make up the mask, said Gérald Heuliez, explaining that 70% of the raw materials he uses come from France.



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