Plumbs: from Furniture covers to medical scrubs

Plumbs reorients its operations in order to play its part in the fight against COVID-19.


Plumbs has been in the furniture business for over 60 years. A family-run business based in Lancashire, UK, it remanufactures covers for sofas and chairs as well as reupholsters furniture. Plumbs puts community at the heart of everything it does so, when the crisis hit, it quickly offered its help to produce scrubs for medical workers in the UK. Rob Page, Production Director, tells us how.

How did you manage to get organized?

After first contacting a local Facebook group set up to help the NHS, we received paper patterns that needed to be cut out into large and small sizes that we then digitized and put into lays.

What challenges did you face?

Personally, it’s been over 25 years since I operated a cutting machine! Back in the days of the original laser cutters, we used to manufacture standard stretch covers. The challenge now is a shortage of fabric. We just collected around another 500 meters of cloth that we have started to process.

How long did it take you to become operational?

Only a couple of hours. We digitized the patterns and put through the auto lay plan. As the CAD room was doing the digitizing work, we were unpacking the rolls and lining them up to start the cutting. From digitizing the first pieces, we were cutting within an hour.

Approximately how many scrubs were you able to manufacture?

So far, around 1000 sets of tops and trousers on three of our Lectra cutters. The additional 500 meters should allow us to cut another 160 sets. We are passing some of the cut work on to a local sewing group that is organizing groups of home sewers to sew the products together, all organized through a Facebook group called Sewing Urgent Supplies for Preston's NHS Heroes, Can You Help Too? , a charity organization that is trying to raise funds to purchase additional scrub material. Additionally, I’m proud to say that 10 of our own sewers have now volunteered to support the sewing effort.  

If you had one piece of advice to share, what would it be?

Don’t stand back, get involved. Whilst normal business is not operating because of the Covid-19 lockdown, it does not mean you cannot help in some way. The furniture industry has the equipment and the necessary know-how to produce basic garments.  It’s great to be able to give something back in this time of crisis, for the world we all share.


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