A HEREFORDSHIRE bottling business is hoping for a clean bill of health after branching out to make its own brand of hand sanitiser.

With stocks cleaned off the shelves in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, family-owned Bromyard firm Marches Bottling and Packaging have already had a substantial order from Herefordshire Council for the first run of its new hand sanitiser, while the rest will be sold online direct to the public.

Marches director Sue Vaughan said: “We want to make a small profit so we can keep our business going, but we also want to do our bit to help. That’s why we are not charging people silly prices and we are supplying the local authority at a significant discount.”

The bottling operation runs alongside the family’s Celtic Marches cider business.

“We have 25 people working across the two businesses, and we want to preserve those jobs,” said Sue.

“Our operations director, Chris Palmes asked what we could do to try and keep the business running, I suggested making hand sanitiser as a joke and he said ‘Yes, we can do it!’ So away we went.

“My cousin, Kate Turner, and her family run gin distillery Penrhos Spirits, and were able to supply the ethanol we needed. That’s why we are selling the sanitiser under both our brands as “Two Cousins”.

Production is up and running, with Chris Palmes filling the bottles by hand, and an online store has been set up through Shopify to help cater for the expected high demand.

“We’ve had a lot of help to get this off the ground,” said Sue Vaughan.

“Thursfields Solicitors have provided constant support on a whole range of issues, while the local HMRC people sorted all the permissions and tweaks to our licenses in just two or three days – it normally takes up to five weeks.”

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