Manufacture of Biocidal Hand Sanitiser -DEROGATION (COVID-19)

MANUFACTURE AND SUPPLY OF BIOCIDAL HAND SANITISER PRODUCTS DURING THE OUTBREAK: coronavirus (COVID-19)

Some of the UK’s existing manufacturers of biocidal hand sanitiser products have reported that they are facing significant challenges to their normal supply chains from increasing demand for the raw ingredients needed to meet unprecedented and urgent demand during the Covid-19 outbreak.

In response HSE has taken the following steps.

* DEROGATION FROM PRODUCT AUTHORISATION REQUIREMENTS FOR HAND SANITISERS CONTAINING Propan-2-ol
Article 55 (1) of the Biocidal Products Regulation (BPR) enables HSE, in cases of danger to public health, animal health or the environment which cannot be contained by other means, to provide short term derogations from the requirements for product authorisation.

Biocidal hand sanitiser products containing Propan-2-ol (also known as isopropanol or isopropyl alcohol/IPA), will not be required to obtain a product authorisation if they meet the relevant WHO-specified formulation II (PDF)- Portable Document Format.

Manufacturers wishing to place products that meet the WHO specified formulation onto the UK Market must contact HSE via biocidesenquiries@hse.gov.uk using ‘Propan-2-ol Article 55’ as the subject title of the email. HSE will respond quickly to request details about the products being manufactured and once provided, issue a derogation certificate.

Products should not be placed on the market until HSE has confirmed that the derogation applies to you and issued you with the certificate.

* HAND SANITISERS CONTAINING Propan-1-ol OR Ethanol
WHO does not specify a formulation for hand sanitisers containing propanol-1-ol. Therefore, although Article 55 derogations may be possible for hand sanitisers containing propan-1-ol, these will require more information from applicants to enable HSE to determine their efficacy and the risks associated with their use. Such applications will take longer to process than those for hand sanitisers containing propan-2-ol.

There is a WHO-specified formulation for hand sanitiser containing ethanol(https://www.who.int/gpsc/5may/Guide_to_Local_Production.pdf). Under the transition arrangements in the biocidal product regulations manufacturers do not require product authorisations to place hand sanitiser products containing ethanol on to the UK Market.

* RULES FOR SUPPLYING CHEMICALS FOR USE IN BIOCIDAL PRODUCTS
Article 95 of the BPR aims to create a level playing field across industry by ensuring that all suppliers of biocidal products have paid a share of the cost of supporting the active substance dossier through an evaluation process.

Article 95 requires suppliers of active substances for use in biocidal products to have obtained a letter of access to an active substance dossier, to have submitted their own dossier to the European Chemicals Agency, or to be a participant in the European Commission’s on-going review programme of active substances.

There are currently 44 companies recognised under Article 95 for supplying propan-2-ol as a biocidal active substance, including 4 based in the UK. In addition, there are currently 98 companies recognised under Article 95 for supplying the alcohol ethanol as a biocidal active substance, including 7 based in the UK.

The sources are listed on the European Chemical’s Agency’s (ECHA) searchable database: https://echa.europa.eu/information-on-chemicals/active-substance-suppliers

* NON-ARTICLE 95 SUPPLIER’S CHEMICALS FOR USE IN HAND SANITISER
During this exceptional time of increased demand due to the coronavirus outbreak, it may be necessary for hand sanitiser manufacturers to find alternative suppliers of raw ingredients to supplement those obtained via regular supply chains.

HSE’s primary concern is that safe and effective biocidal hand sanitisers are available in the UK to help protect people during the coronavirus outbreak. HSE will adopt a pragmatic and proportionate approach to regulatory requirements that relate to supply chain obligations during this period. The focus of any HSE activity by inspectors will be to ensure that products on the market are effective in combating the coronavirus and do not pose an unacceptable risk to people or the environment.

HSE would expect product manufacturers to have taken all reasonable steps to source ingredients in such a way that they are compliant with Article 95 obligations.

However, HSE Inspectors will take a sensible and proportionate approach if they come across hand sanitisers that are not strictly in line with normal BPR supply chain requirements under Article 95, recognising the urgent wider need for safe and effective products.

In making commercial decisions, manufacturers need to be mindful of maintaining high levels of safety and efficacy of the products they make available to the public and others.

* ACTIVE SUBSTANCES NOT YET SUBJECT TO AUTHORISATION UNDER THE BIOCIDAL PRODUCTS REGULATIONS
Suppliers of hand disinfectants and sanitisers should bear in mind that where the product is not yet subject to authorisation under the BPR, eg those containing ethanol, any product placed on the market must comply with other relevant legislation on Classification, Labelling and Packaging of substances and Mixtures (CLP) and other general product safety regulations.

Any workplace producing or using or storing ethanol and isopropyl alcohol must also comply with relevant health and safety regulations.

* HAND SANITISERS THAT DON’T CONTAIN ALCOHOL
This guidance relates to alcohol-based hand sanitisers.

Other active substances are available but Public Health England has advised that hand sanitisers should have 60% or higher alcohol content to be effective against the COVID-19 virus.

Further information and advice
* speak to your supplier
* contact biocidesenquiries@hse.gov.uk
* sign up to the biocides e-bulletin: https://www.hse.gov.uk/news/subscribe/index.htm
* visit the HSE Biocides website: https://www.hse.gov.uk/biocides/index.htm

(COVID-19): support package for your workforce

The Chancellor outlined on 20th March an unprecedented package of measures to protect millions of people’s jobs and incomes as part of the national effort in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

A new Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be set up to help pay people’s wages. Employers will be able to contact HMRC for a grant to cover most of the wages of their workforce who remain on payroll but are temporarily not working during the coronavirus outbreak. Any employer in the country- small or large, charitable or non-profit will be eligible for the scheme.

Universal Credit and tax credits will also be increased as part of an almost £7 billion welfare boost, as he outlined one of the most generous business and welfare packages by any government so far in response to Covid-19.

To ease cash flow pressures for UK VAT registered businesses, VAT bills from now until the end of June, will be deferred until the end of the tax year.

* UK workers of any employer who is placed on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme can keep their job, with the government paying up to 80% of a WORKER’S WAGE, up to a total of £2,500 per worker each month. These will be backdated to 1st March and will be initially open for 3 months, to be extended if necessary.
* VAT payments due between now and the end of June will be DEFERRED. No VAT registered business will have to make a VAT payment normally due with their VAT return to HMRC in that period. INCOME TAX PAYMENTS due in July 2020 under the Self Assessment system will be DEFERRED to January 2021, benefitting up to 5.7m self-employed businesses.
* Additionally, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, launched at Budget, will now be INTEREST FREE for TWELVE months.
* The standard rate in Universal credit and Tax Credits will be increased by £20 a week for one year from April 6th, meaning claimants will be up to £1040 better off.
* Nearly £1bn of additional support for RENTERS, through increases in the generosity of housing benefit and Universal Credit. From April, Local Housing Allowance rates will pay for at least 30% of market rents in each area.
HMRC are working night and day to get the unprecedented Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme up and running and we expect THE FIRST GRANTS TO BE PAID WITHIN WEEKS.

UK international trade

(COVID-19): Government support for UK businesses trading internationally

This guidance is issued by the UK Government and it advises UK businesses on:
– DIT support for UK business trading internationally
– financial support for business trading internationally

1. DIT support for UK businesses trading internationally
This advice is for UK businesses that export or deliver goods and services abroad and have been impacted by the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). It includes:
– DIT support for UK business trading internationally
– financial support for business trading internationally

DIT can support businesses by:
– providing assistance with customs authorities to ensure smooth clearance of their products
– offering advice on intellectual property and other issues with business continuity

British businesses that may face disruption due to the spread of coronavirus can contact DIT’s dedicated business support team by emailing COVID19@trade.gov.uk.
This team will discuss the challenges faced by UK businesses that trade internationally to understand how best the department can support them.

Further guidance for employees, employers and businesses is also available online: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-employees-employers-and-businesses

1.1 Supply chains affected by coronavirus (COVID-19)
If your supply chain has been affected by coronavirus (COVID-19), DIT can help you to find alternative suppliers. The department has relationships with a global network of businesses across the world and will be able to advise you on the options available.

If you have an advisory or professional services firm that can help UK companies to find alternative suppliers, email COVID19@trade.gov.uk with the subject line “Supply chain support”.

1.2 International support for businesses involved in overseas projects
If you are operating projects in other countries, follow local guidance and speak to your nearest UK embassy or consulate. Alternatively, you can read the general advice on Overseas Business Risk in the relevant country: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/overseas-business-risk

2. Financial support for British businesses trading internationally
The Chancellor announced (17 March 2020) an unprecedented package of government-backed and guaranteed loans to support businesses, making available an initial £330bn of guarantees – equivalent to 15% of GDP. See: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/support-for-those-affected-by-covid-19

This was on top of a series of measures announced at Budget 2020, where the government announced £30 billion of additional support for public services, individuals and businesses experiencing financial difficulties because of COVID-19.

On 20 March 2020, the Chancellor announced a further workers’ support package to protect millions of people’s jobs and incomes as part of the national effort in response to coronavirus. (SEE SPECIFIC ARTICLE ON BAMA’S BLOG)
A new Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be set up to help pay people’s wages; Universal Credit and tax credits will also be increased as part of an almost £7 billion welfare boost; and to ease cash flow pressures for UK VAT registered businesses, VAT bills from now until the end of June, will be deferred until the end of the tax year.

Your business may be able to get support to lessen the cost or financial effects of coronavirus (COVID-19) through:
– the business interruption loan scheme from the British Business Bank as part of the Enable Finance Guarantee
– changes to Statutory Sick Pay
– the UK-wide Time to Pay – scheme for tax payment relief for businesses and self-employed people
– an increase in the Business Rates Retail Discount in England to 100% for a year, now expanded to the leisure and hospitality sectors
– cash support to all business in receipt of Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) and funding for Local Authorities in England to support businesses that pay little or no business rates because of SBRR or Rural Rates Relief
– the temporary lowering of the Minimum Income Floor (MIF) for Universal Credit for those who have COVID-19 or are self-isolating following government advice

2.1 Financial support for exporters
UK Export Finance (UKEF) works with banks and insurance brokers to help companies of all sizes fulfil and get paid for export contracts. It provides guarantees, loans and insurance on behalf of the government that can protect UK exporters facing delayed payments or transit restrictions.
Help from UKEF:
– if your business is facing disruption due to late payments, UKEF can help ease cash flow constraints by guaranteeing bank loans through its Export Working Capital Scheme
– if you are concerned about getting paid, UKEF offers an export insurance policy that can help you recover the costs of fulfilling an order that is terminated by events outside your control

UKEF can also support finance for overseas buyers through the Direct Lending Facility scheme, so they can continue to buy your goods and services

UKEF has over £4 billion of capacity to support UK firms exporting to China, as well as significant capacity across other markets affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) to help cover these risks.

To find out if UKEF covers your region, email customer.service@ukexportfinance.gov.uk

2.2 International business travel
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office offers the latest advice about travelling abroad, including the latest information on coronavirus (COVID-19), safety and security, entry requirements and travel warnings.

2.3 DIT coronavirus (COVID-19) business support contacts
If you have questions on international trade and coronavirus (COVID-19) email COVID19@trade.gov.uk

There are DIT offices around the world that can offer advice to businesses specific to your region or country. Contact your local embassy for further information.

BAMA Innovation Day moves to Summertime!

*New date for BAMA Innovation Day 2020*

Dear All,

Although UK Government has not yet formally restricted large gatherings, a number of companies have restricted staff movements due to the COVID (19) outbreak. To ensure speakers, exhibitors and attendees get the maximum from the day, the British Aerosol Manufacturers Association (BAMA) has taken the decision to postpone its 2020 Innovation Day.
The event will take place on Tuesday 7th July still at the original venue, the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds.
Patrick Heskins, chief executive of BAMA, said: “BAMA is grateful to the Royal Armouries for working so positively with us to organise another date at such short notice. We take the health and safety of our members and delegates extremely seriously, and it is with their best interests in mind that we have taken the decision to re-schedule this popular event.
“We look forward to welcoming some of the industry’s most creative manufacturers and influential thought leaders on the new date in July.”
Several speakers have already been confirmed, including Simply Breathe – Aerosol of the Year winners – who will examine the technology used in their Air for Life product. Sustainability Award winner, Triple Line Technology, is also set to demonstrate and discuss its revolutionary aerosol foam system.
The Innovation Day is open to both BAMA members and non-members and provides an excellent opportunity to network, share ideas and make new connections in the drive for sustainable growth.
Anyone wishing to attend should contact Sally Tilbury at sallytilbury@bama.co.uk, or by calling 020 7828 5111.

BAMA announces appointment of new Vice Chair

The British Aerosol Manufacturers’ Association (BAMA) has announced the appointment of Peter Watmough, global detection products manager at Cascade Technologies, a division of Emerson Automation Solutions, as Vice-Chair of the Association.
Peter will take over from James Smith, Summit Europe, who has served as Vice-Chair of BAMA since 2018.

With several years of experience on the BAMA board of directors, Mr Watmough’s focus will be centred on helping the association to deliver its 2025 strategy, expanding the membership base and sharing knowledge with stakeholders across an increasing diverse range of industries.

Patrick Heskins, BAMA chief executive, said: “Peter brings a wealth of industry experience and technical know-how to the role and I am very pleased to welcome him as the new Vice-Chairman.

“The coming year is likely to present many new challenges with significant political upheaval and the anticipated changes in the regulatory landscape. Peter’s experience will be critical in supporting BAMA’s members as the association works to ensure their voices are heard at all levels.”

“I would like to thank James for his support during the last 18 months and throughout a period of great uncertainty for the industry.”

Peter Watmough commented: “Despite the varied challenges facing industry, the UK remains the largest filler in Europe, the third largest in the world and will continue to make a very significant contribution to the UK economy as we move into a new decade.
“As every business strives to operate as efficiently as possible, it is likely that we will see greater need for the services of associations like BAMA, particularly to ensure regulatory changes do not have adverse or unintended consequences. I will work closely with the BAMA team and membership to ensure the association remains well placed to provide the resources and support required and respond effectively to any issues the industry faces whether local or global.”

BAMA’s World renowned Aerosol Technology Course is having a make-over!

Packed into two days is information on aerosol regulations, formulations and filling, as well as advice on the choice of propellants, valves, containers – bought to you by industry experts.

And the new format Day 2 will now incorporate a practical workshop in the UK aerosol laboratory of the Lindal Valve company. Here you will learn more about valves, the basics of sealing the valve to the can and get to fill different formulations. You will also be able to carry out lab tests on aerosols that measure the discharge rate, the particle size distribution and the flammability of the aerosols.

This course will help those in all functions across the industry, from R&D to procurement, from line operatives to senior managers. It distils all aspects of aerosol technology in to an easily digestible format, showing how each part of the aerosol package interacts to create the final consumer product, that is unlike any other packaging format.

The course cost now includes overnight accommodation and an evening meal, where you can spend time networking with the course tutors and the other delegates and, if you want, learn a little more about the history of the industry in an informal environment. Spaces will be limited due the number of people we can safely fit in to the lab and will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.

The new Technology Course will be taking place on Tuesday 17th & Wednesday 18th March 2020 at The Woburn Hotel, Woburn, Milton Keynes. For more information and to take advantage of this exciting development contact Sallytilbury@bama.co.uk.

Blockchain technology

‘Blockchain’ – what is it and why do we care?

Chances are you’ve probably heard of blockchain – and you’ve almost certainly heard that it’s going to be the next big thing. You’ve been told that it could transform the way that both your business and the market work. However, more likely than not, you are in the dark as what all the fuss is about and how this is going to happen.
That’s because this technology is at a very early stage in its development and few can assess realistically what it can actually deliver. In fact the first blockchain was only created in 2009 as part of the development of the crypto-currency Bitcoin.
So what actually is blockchain, and is it really as important as many people have made out?

The DEFINITION of BLOCKCHAIN
A blockchain is a type of distributed ledger, which records a series of transactions as digital records or ‘blocks’. What makes it unique is that these blocks are inextricably linked, despite not being stored in the same place. This makes the records secure, because there isn’t a central source to be attacked and the records can be made unique and permanent. They can’t be altered without the changes themselves being recorded.

Blockchain was a breakthrough technology for crypto-currencies, because it could be used globally and prevent anyone spending the same unit of currency twice. For a business, it creates a way of maintaining a unique, indisputable history of all its interactions with different parties: suppliers, partners, customers and ensure the traceability and integrity of its data.

HOW can BUSINESSES use Blockchain?
Proponents of blockchain have latched on to its transparency as a solution to every problem facing businesses, from supply chain management to micropayments. However, as with so many breakthrough technologies, blockchain can’t bring about these changes by itself. It’s the systems and applications built around it that will drive real impact.

Certain applications are straightforward. For example, a company could use blockchain to store details of its unique product formulation. The production line at a filler, for instance, would automatically stop and alert management, when a discrepancy was detected against the original records – any change a third party (hacker, malaware) attempted would be spotted before damage could take place.

Transforming DATA QUALITY and DATA OWNERSHIP
It’s not just the management of data that blockchain could change, though. Potentially far more significant are the implications of the technology for ownership and control of proprietary data.
Looking at the chemical industry, blockchain could take this out of the hands of manufacturing partners – and put it into the hands of the owners whom the data relates to. This is critical when brand and public image are at stake and the supply chain behind a marketer is large, fragmented and possibly outsourced. Any change of hands brings with it a risk, the more severe the risk, the higher the level of security required. For patented products and registered trade marks, avoiding counterfeit is paramount and a switch towards higher security, control and integrity, certainly worth the investment behind it.

WHERE are we in the PROCESS?
Aspects of this huge transformation are already happening. The UK government’s Midata project, for instance, has made financial services companies and energy suppliers store their data in a form that customers could access and share with other providers. One of the major barriers to large-scale adoption of the personal information economy has been the technology required to create secure, personal data stores. If blockchain solves that problem, then the relationship between people and data could be transformed, and marketing could be on the verge of a revolution.

BAMA unveils winners at annual awards

The British Aerosol Manufacturers’ Association (BAMA) has announced the winners of its annual awards at the 2019 Forum and Awards Dinner, with Simply Breathe, Ball Aerosol Packaging and Triple Line Technology among the recipients.

Held at the prestigious Oulton Hall Hotel, Leeds, the awards recognise and reward innovation across the aerosol sector.

Winners, runners up and highly commended entrants were selected from five categories:
• Aerosol Packaging
• Sustainability
• Process Safety and Training
• Aerosol of the Year
• Aerosol in Action, photography.

The awards were judged by an esteemed panel of experts, including Ben Carpenter-Merritt, Policy Manager, Manufacturing at Policy Connect, Olga Munroe, Head of the Retail Institute, and Detlev Melcher, Publisher and CEO of Media Service International

Commending the winners, the judges said: “The standard of entries at this year’s awards demonstrates the industry’s continued commitment to innovate at each stage of the supply chain.

“The quality of work showcased across each of the award categories made selecting eventual winners no mean feat, and stands as testament to how far the industry has come in driving sustainable growth across the sector”.

The winners and runners up in each category were:

Aerosol Packaging

Winner: Ball Aerosol Packaging – Ball Aluminium Aerosol 360° Can
360 technology offers symmetrical and asymmetrical shaping available over the full circumference of the can. Artwork is oriented to perfectly fit the relief area and complement the shaping, resulting in a can that is visually engaging from all angles while providing additional grip for usability.

Runner up: Pritchard Spray Technology Ltd – Deft Household Cleaning Range
Deft combines the benefits of aerosol with Anyway Spray® technology and zero emissions propellant delivering a world beating new product format & sophisticated packaging design.

Highly Commended: Coster Group – Texture effects on actuator
Coster realised a new way of conceiving the actuator where personalisation is related to the eye catching effect and not to the shape, by creating patterns on the actuator surfaces. Infinite effects choice are available on every Coster actuator and spray cap

Sustainability

Winner: Triple Line Technology – TLT foam dispenser
TLT-foamer technology is a low-cost and easy to implement innovation with the potential to significantly reduce the total volume of VOCs or nitrous oxide released to the atmosphere, enabling the development of a wide range of sustainable foamed aerosol products.

Runner up: Procter & Gamble – 100% Polymer Aerosol
A 100% polymer aerosol container developed to meet the needs of consumers while assuring safety and functionality and striving for recyclability. This innovation is the first aerosol container which attempts to meet the needs of both the aerosol and recycling industries.

Highly commended: COSTER – COSTER plan for sustainable growth
COSTER’s 2018 Sustainability Report demonstrates a commitment to sustainability, achieved by putting in place a group-wide improvement plan and monitoring system that gives a transparent, objective and measurable overview of the progress year on year.

Process Safety and Training

Winner: Unilever – Unilever Process Safety
The process safety management programme is paramount to Unilever’s sustainable business in aerosol manufacture, and has resulted in external auditors deeming Unilever Leeds as a site with sustained, outstanding process safety management performance.

Runner up: Alloway UK Ltd – AP Vision System
A vision and control system that uses a single camera to check that product and/or perfume has been injected into the can correctly. Working at up to 500 cans per minute, the system will identify faulty containers before the valve is inserted, meaning they can be reworked rather than scrapped.

Highly commended: WD-40 Company – Smart Stack
Specially designed for retailers, Smart Stack is shop ready packaging which requires no handling. Once In store, retailers need only open the external cover–protector for the stack to be display ready. No further preparation required.

Aerosol of the Year

Winner: Simply Breathe Limited – AirForLife® – Emergency Escape Device
AirForLife® is an emergency escape device, embodied in an aerosol packaging assembly, which provides the user with a self-contained oxygen supply to aid in the escape from incidents such as a burning building or other situations in which breathing may become impaired.

Runner up: Church & Dwight Europe – Batiste Waterless Cleanser Range
Waterless Cleansing Foam comes in four variants: Cleanse & Shine, Cleanse & Strengthen, Cleanse & Smooth, Cleanse & Hydrate. This innovation is a game changer in the dry shampoo industry, giving the consumers a shower like cleaning experience in a Dry Shampoo.

Runner up: James Briggs Ltd – Hycote Graphene Anti-Corrosion Primer
Specifically developed to provide excellent resistance to corrosion, Hycote graphene primer is the only aerosol primer using graphene in production today. Performing significantly better than a standard primer, Hycote graphene primer withstood more than 1,750 hours of standardised salt-spray corrosion testing, compared to standard primer which showed signs of damage as early as 168 hours.

Highly commended: Pritchard Spray Technology Ltd – Deft Household Cleaning Range
Deft combines the benefits of an aerosol with Anyway Spray® technology, zero emissions propellant and 99.6% VOC free ingredients delivering a world beating new product format and sophisticated packaging design.

Aerosol in Action, photography:

Winner: Pritchard Spray Technology Ltd
The winning image will be used as the cover of the 2020 BAMA Annual Report. In addition, the photographer behind the image will receive a yearly membership to the Guild of Photographers.

Special Recognition Award

Winner: Grant Coupland – Sustainability Director, Colep
Recognised by board members for his contribution to the industry, Grant was a key figure in the creation of ACOA – an alliance between Colep, Pax in Australia and Diazo in Japan. Prior to his current role, Grant worked for CCL in Scunthorpe and remained with the company following its merger with Colep. In addition, Grant has sat on the BAMA Committee, held the position of Chairman of the Association, and currently represents BAMA on the FEA Board of Directors.

Patrick Heskins, BAMA chief executive, said: “Congratulations to the winners, runners up and all those who were highly commended and of course a huge thank you to all those who entered the 2019 awards.

“While we have we seen a record number of entries this year, what’s been most impressive is the breadth and standard of the products submitted.

“It’s been great to see the aerosol industry addressing some of the biggest social issues of the last few years. In AirForLife we have an incredible innovation that has the potential to save many lives”.

In addition to free publicity and a trophy, the winners in each of the five categories received a £500 voucher, redeemable against any of the many BAMA events or products. The runner ups in each category also received a £250 voucher.

European Filling Figures for aerosol

Of the 16 billion units globally produced, a third are made in Europe. The data in the attached report is the result of the 2018 figures submitted to FEA by each of its members, it provides a detailed summary on
European aerosol products production by country, segment and type. The graph also include the worldwide production overview.

What a Discovery – new R&D centre fully operational

It’s the 1st of May, I’m sitting at my computer at the BAMA offices, when an email pops up in my Inbox, announcing the opening of the a new R&D Centre by one of our member companies. Intrigued, I asked the sender for more details. Together with a press release on the subject, I also get an invitation to attend the actual opening ceremony, on the 21st May, at the company’s new site in Folkestone.
I can be there to witness the cutting of the ribbon by the senior management, be treated to a tour of the premises and ask all the inopportune questions I can think of. With a visit to Church & Dwight staring at me from the To-Do list in the office, this is an opportunity not to be missed!

On the day, I reach Folkestone nice and early, treat myself to a stroll along the north bank of the Channel, and then head to destination. On arrival, I am faced with an unassuming building, aptly named Discovery House. No-one in sight, apart from the PR executives who, with utmost efficiency, had provided me in advance with a detailed schedule for my visit. I am warmly welcomed and guided to the offices upstairs. That is where I discover a bright, light-filled open space that looks out on the ascending line of the North Downs. Bright green slopes that raise up to touch a gorgeous clear sky – on a glorious sunny day, you can be excused for feeling poetically inspired.
And this is where Church ad Dwight has relocated their research and development team, from formulators to packaging experts, equipping them with a dedicated creative room: wall boards, TV screen, flip charts, tables and crafts material to brainstorm, draw, and visualise ideas, feelings and concepts.

Spacious, white-washed rooms, a break-up kitchen area and an open space layout: all designed to facilitate interaction, while providing the quiet and relaxed atmosphere needed to chase your inspiration. And I do indeed interact. Within few seconds I spot some known faces: handshakes, smiles, introductions, and we all head downstairs to join what is now quite a crowd, gathered to congratulate Marita Alegre, the driving force behind this project. Marita joined Church & Dwight 3 years ago, bringing a wealth of experience and expertise in the sector, together with the determination necessary to obtain the investments needed.

And between a drink and a slice of cake, I can see that the investment has been put to good use: the ground floor is taken up by a fully equipped lab, where product design can be tested and adjusted based on consumer-groups feedback. In fact, the ground floor also contains a room where groups can test the products and voice their impressions, picked up in real time by the same scientists who have created the product. The two separate worlds of users and makers are closer than ever, allowing for immediate reaction. Only one doubt – is the company carrying out ‘tester sessions’ at different locations and events, or should we accept that all over the country we share preferences and inclinations with the consumers in Folkestone?