I thought it might be helpful to update you on some of what is going on here at Marshall in response to the Covid-19 crisis and our contribution to the global efforts to manage the situation.
Our hangars in Cambridge are very busy with a large team of fitters and technicians, supported by our engineering and supply/logistics teams, working hard to keep on top of our ongoing C-130 work for many of our customers who desperately need their C-130 fleets for their familiar role in humanitarian crises, delivering equipment, supplies and people around the world. Although we have some members of our production teams who fall into the vulnerable categories and have to self-isolate at home, the rest of the team has risen to the challenge in true Marshall style, working together to deliver 6 aircraft, on time to our very grateful customers so far during the lockdown.
Our engineering and manufacturing teams are also working flat out, not only supporting the hangars and other ongoing contracts, but also in support of the various medical programmes with which we are involved. Whilst one of these programmes has now come to a natural end, others are progressing and our long-standing reputation for high quality design, engineering and prototype manufacturing is bringing in more enquiries almost every day.
Working closely with our partners, the Exovent negative pressure ventilator programme is moving toward clinical trials. Whilst it would be inappropriate to say too much at this stage, I can tell you that the team has been hugely encouraged by the tremendous initial response from medical professionals who are helping with the development and they will continue to work around the clock, in shifts, to drive this forward.
Also in Cambridge, the work to convert 22 Hangar as a temporary body storage facility has been completed in record time and we have had a very warm and positive message from the Chief Executive of the County Council to thank us for all we are doing. The facility is now ready but will be held at a standby status until it is needed. Clearly, we all hope this will not be required to be used but it is good to know that it is there.
Whilst the profile of the work we are doing in MFS is different from that which we envisaged at the beginning of the year, the increased demand in some sectors of food and medical supplies distribution (eg supermarkets and home deliveries) is offsetting lower demand in other sectors (eg fast-food and restaurant chains). Overall, however, our maintenance and support engineers are being kept very busy.
The team in Marshall Centre has also been busy, including adapting our apprentice training which is now being delivered online through the lockdown period, helping to keep them up-to-date on their important training. They will be announcing a free online webinar course on project management which is being targeted at people in the Cambridge area who have sadly lost their jobs as a result of the virus crisis who are looking to strengthen their skills as they seek for new employment.
Locally, we continue to support the East Barnwell district of Cambridge (our neighbours) with the distribution of surplus food from our catering onsite. This is being supplemented now with the provision of full meals for 13 local families who have been identified by our contacts on the ground in the district as being in particular need of support. We are very grateful to our caterers, Thomas Franks, for their active participation in this.
As many of you will know, Marshall Motor Holdings has 62 of its aftersales workshops offering service and repair support to key workers and they are all increasingly busy with this work, especially those dealing with trucks and vans. Alongside this, Daksh and his senior team are working hard to maintain contact with the more than 4,000 colleagues who have been furloughed for the last few weeks.
Finally, alongside the ongoing work across the businesses, we are now advancing our plans for a phased return to work so that we are ready when the Government signals a move to the next stage. In many ways, the return will be at least as, if not more complex than the lockdown, as we adapt to social distancing being a feature of our lives for many months to come. We will have to balance the Government’s advice and the needs of our business with the many understandable worries and concerns which our valued employees and their families will have about the perceived risks.
Alex Dorrian CBE