03/04/2020 - 14:09

Snapping together a vital new product

03/04/2020 - 14:09

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Alasdair Malloch has transformed Whipper Snapper Distillery's business model in just two weeks, organising a joint venture with LabWest and Ferngrove Wine Group to produce medical-grade hand sanitiser for some major clients.

Snapping together a vital new product
Alasdair Malloch says the switch to hand sanitiser has thrown the distillery a lifeline.

Alasdair Malloch has transformed Whipper Snapper Distillery's business model in just two weeks, organising a joint venture with LabWest and Ferngrove Wine Group to produce medical-grade hand sanitiser for some major clients.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has hit many businesses, things got very bad very quickly for the Claisebrook distillery.

“We had international tourists drying up," Mr Malloch said.

“Then all the market expo events cancelled on us.

“Then the shutdown of cafes, cellar doors … that killed our front room.

“Then the policy last week, we could only sell one bottle.

“We either had to find a way to survive or we were dead.”

An enormous amount of work went into getting the hand sanitiser product together, he said, and the partnerships were particularly important.

LabWest will ensure the sanitiser reaches suitable standards from regulators, which have just this week simplified the approvals process to ensure all products meeting the criteria can easily get on the market.

The Malaga-based analytics business, best known for its work with the mining industry, will be sourcing the plastic bottles and distributing to a range of customers that are lining up for the in-demand product.

Those included for use in ambulances, other frontline essential services and for big resources businesses.

Ferngrove is playing a key role, supplying 15,000 litres of wine per week, which would make about 1,500 litres of hand sanitiser.

Managing director Andrew Blythe said the company’s export markets had come to a standstill.

He said the federal government had been asking distilleries to switch to hand sanitiser production, and some businesses had got in touch with him, but he felt this would be the right fit because the product would be of high quality and reach regulatory standards.

The sanitiser is not for retail use, but rather for medical and industrial uses.

LabWest managing director Brad Whisson said hand sanitiser was in such strong demand that if the company had 10,000 litres in stock, it would probably be able to sell the lot.

The City of Perth also chipped in a $5,000 Quick Response Business Grant for extra equipment.

Also today, Spinifex announced its first shipment of sanitiser, to be delivered to WA Police.

The brewery said tens of thousands of litres had been pre-sold around Australia, and manufacturing would soon ramp up to a 24-7 schedule.

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