Polish retailers reserve EUR 220,000 for purchase of Chinese masks

Polish clothes retailers LPP, owners of Reserved chain of shops to import masks from China, in response to "Newsweek" magazine article.

Antiseptics makers fighting for access to spirit

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The Gdansk-based retailer, which sources the majority of its clothes in China and other parts of South East Asia, was canned in a Newsweek article yesterday, which revealed that in January the chain had sent 300,000 masks to China for its workers in Shanghai to wear when the rates of infection were rising quickly in that part of the world.

The article had suggested that by doing so, the retailer had led to the current shortage of masks in Poland.

The company said on Tuesday that it intends to purchase and have delivered “over double the number of masks that were sent to China”. In addition, the company is to give 10 percent of the taking of one of its clothing lines to support hospitals in the Pomorskie province in the north of Poland and the Malopolskie Province in southern Poland.

Share prices of retailers such as LPP and CCC have fallen faster than many other retailers on the Warsaw stock exchange since fears of coronavirus contagion started affecting global markets.

The large retailers, which both have extensive networks outside Poland are doubly hit, partially because of concerns over their Chinese supply chain and also due to reduced domestic clothing and footwear sales as a result of the mild winter.

However, LPP’s unaudited results for 2019 show that the company’s total sales rose by 11 percent to around PLN 10 bn (2,2 bn) making it one of the biggest retail chains in Central and Eastern Europe, where the majority of its shops are located.

In response to the Newsweek article, Shanghai-based China trade expert Michał Bielewicz, who was a guest of PolandIN in October 2019, said on Tuesday that few people remember that China was in just as much need in early February as Poland is now, but had less time to prepare for the virus.” However, the country used the time that was available to it well, which was a lesson for Poland. v Within a month from the time that BYD, the car manufacturer, announced that it was going into mask production, it was able to report that it was the largest producer in the world, according to the China expert. The number two and three producers were Chinese manufacturers of iPhones and an oil company.

The largest Polish oil firm, Orlen has gone into the antiseptic business. The company said last week it produced up to 4.5 mln litres of the ethanol-based liquid in April, as demand has risen by 300-400 percent. Copper maker KGHM and pharma company Polfa Tarchomin are also producing antiseptic.