Print outsourcer named in leaked files

Jo Francis
Wednesday, November 17, 2021

A Welsh print and packaging outsourcing business has been drawn into the current storm over lobbying by MPs and the controversial ‘VIP lane’ for lucrative PPE deals.

CCS McLays now supplies a range of PPE products
CCS McLays now supplies a range of PPE products

According to the Financial Times, Steve Brine the Conservative MP for Winchester and Chandler’s Ford is under investigation for possible undeclared lobbying regarding a pharma firm for which he is a paid adviser. 

Separately, information about the government’s so-called ‘VIP lane’ of preferred suppliers has been leaked to the Politico website, which published the full list. 

It shows that Brine also referred Cardiff-based CCS McLays to the government, at a time when the NHS was facing a severe shortage of PPE because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

There is no suggestion that CCS McLays has done anything wrong. 

The Cardiff-based firm won an £11m-plus ‘without prior publication’ deal to supply garments for biological or chemical protection last summer. 

Explaining the circumstances of the contract award, the Department for Health & Social Care stated: “A delay in engaging with the market by running a usual procurement process ran the risk of failing to acquire the necessary stock of PPE equipment and presenting a significant risk to life.”

CCS McLays offers a range of products including stationery, POS and packaging to retailers and the pharma industry. 

It already had well-established outsourcing networks in the Far East, including a partnership for luxury handmade bags in Huizhou, China and sourcing facilities in Shenzhen and Hong Kong. 

The firm also has substantial warehousing facilities in the UK, Wales, Ireland and Germany. 

CCS McLays was formed in 2005, and had sales of £47.7m in the year to 31 March 2020. 

In his commentary on the results, director Mike Thompson said that after the year-end the company reacted quickly and devised and implemented a diversification strategy “in order to reduce its reliance on the retail/high street sector” and to target the immediate and emerging PPE market. 

It introduced new supply lines with partners in the UK and Europe as well as the Far East. 

The firm's offering now also includes PPE direct-to-consumers via an online shop, including hand sanitiser, disposable gloves, and aprons. 

Thompson said the PPE market had remained robust and sales had grown in the nine months to December 2020. Sales for the 2020-21 financial year are expected to hit £65m. 

The firm also secured a CLBILS loan via Santander to help enable the diversification plans, and migrated part of its invoice discounting facility to term debt.

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