JAKARTA (BLOOMBERG) - An Indonesian maker of clothes for Prada and Armani is now producing millions of hazardous material suits after the government called for help in fighting Covid-19.
Pan Brothers, which also makes garments for Adidas, is pumping out jumpsuits along with millions of face masks each week, many of then headed to front-line workers. While the focus has been on domestic distribution, it's fielding calls from from potential buyers in the US, Australia and Europe.
"We have already produced the first batch, which we committed to the government, which is 10 million masks and 100,000 jumpsuits," Pan Brothers vice-chief executive Anne Sutanto said in an interview.
"We already delivered it all. Now we are in the second phase, which is up to 100 million masks, 10 million disposable jumpsuits and one million washable jumpsuits."
Pan Brothers' new focus on protective wear follows similar moves overseas, with iPhone assembler Foxconn and carmaker General Motors among those jumping into virus-related equipment production.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo has called on local companies for help as the country struggles to cope with a rising death toll and and an economy at risk of grinding to a halt amid restrictions on movement.
Indonesia's medical equipment shortage has prompted some front-line health workers to wear raincoats for protection while the government estimates infections could reach 106,000 in July. A lack of testing in the country of 270 million people has raised concerns that the real impact of the coronavirus could be much higher.
Indonesia's death toll was 498, according to Johns Hopkins University data on Thursday (April 16), making it the highest in Asia outside China.
Mr Joko's government has slashed its growth forecast for this year, with the economy expected to grow 2.3 per cent, less than half the pre-outbreak projection of 5.3 per cent. It has warned it could even contract 0.4 per cent under a worst-case scenario.
The International Monetary Fund this week also revised down its forecast for the country, estimating growth of just 0.5 per cent in 2020 before a rebound sees expansion of 8.2 per cent next year, a level not seen since the 1995 when the dictator Suharto was in power.
Pan Brothers is already producing one million washable masks per day, as well as 100,000 disposable protective suits and 30,000 washable jumpsuits per week. While it will soon accelerate production, that could be ramped up even further if not for social distancing rules that mean workers are kept 2m apart and work in shifts at its factories.
Ms Sutanto said the company has proposed a quota system to the government, such as supplying 80 per cent of production to Indonesia and 20 per cent to the world.
"If Indonesia doesn't need that much, we can lower it to maybe 50 per cent or whatever," Ms Sutanto said. "It's not only about making money here but it's also about how Indonesia. Even though we still are in the midst of a Covid-19 pandemic, we can still help others."