Alcantara is re-opening its Nera Montoro production and research and development facilities north of Rome, to supply demand for its “Made in Italy” luxury material for customers in the fashion, home interiors, automotive and consumer electronics industries.
A partner to fashion brands including Max Mara, Swarovski, Adidas, LGR, Italia Independent (by Lapo Elkann), Billionaire and Larusmian, Alcantara voluntarily closed the facility, which has 500 employees, in late March in response to the COVID-19 crisis, even though it was an Italian business authorized to stay in production.
“Our decision to close the plant in March was based on a need to guarantee the safety of our employees,” Alcantara chairman and CEO Andrea Boragno said.
The facility has since undergone a deep sanitization process, and returning employees are being provided with masks, gloves and goggles as they enter the plant.
“It is evident that containment and social distancing measures currently in place will extend well beyond April,” Boragno said. “We don’t know how long the emergency will last, but a complete mid-to-long-term shutdown simply would not be viable.”
He noted that safety measures developed with trade unions and business associations will be in place for the long term. The company currently is implementing serological test programs in cooperation with trade unions and the Umbria Region to quickly identify individuals infected with the virus or who are asymptomatic but still contagious.
Suspected cases will undergo swab tests. The new controls will be coupled with the mandatory use of personal protection equipment (PPE), an increase in working distances, periodic deep sanitization of work areas and daily employee temperature checks.
A triage area has been set up outside the entrance to the plant where employees will receive a check-up when arriving at work or after finishing their shift. The employees will have their temperatures measured with a thermal scanner while in their cars. After signing a voluntary disclosure, consent and self-certification form, they also will receive a finger-tip blood test with results available within five minutes.
All data will be shared with the local health center and will help to form the basis for an epidemiological survey. Alcantara is one of the first companies in Italy to adopt voluntary anti-virus tests and procedures on top of those already prescribed by law.
Boragno added that Alcantara has developed various prototype face masks currently under review by government authorities for mass production at the Nera Montoro plant. The company’s trademarked material is lightweight and its benefits include durability, grip and breathability.
Among the brands and designers that have utilized Alcantara’s product lines are Adidas, Andrea Incontri, Cappellini, Ligne Roset, Y’s, Microsoft, Woolrich and Sennheiser.
The news of Alcantara’s opening comes as Italian denim mill Candiani is set to reopen next week, with the necessary precautions for workers’ health and safety. The mill, located outside of Milan, halted production in March when Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte issued a mandate to shut down all nonessential manufacturing activities in the country in an effort to slowdown the spread of the coronavirus.