A multi-million pound donation to Manchester’s coronavirus response has been made by a fitness firm in what has been called a 'remarkably generous' boost to the city's relief effort.
The Hut Group’s donation includes £1m in cash to city charities and a further £4m in physical support, including staffing, food and luxury hotel rooms for NHS workers.
It has also donated a further £5m to the response in the rest of the UK and internationally.
Usually Manchester-based THG makes and supplies products such as protein shakes, nutritional supplements and vitamins, but in recent months it has branched out to also make make sanitiser as it has stepped in to help the global coronavirus response.
As well as distributing a million free food packages to vulnerable people across the north west, it has now announced a £1m cash donation to the effort in Manchester and surrounding boroughs - split between the city council’s We Love Mcr charity, which is helping vulnerable people during the coronavirus crisis, and Andy Burnham’s homelessness charity.
It is also providing 70 luxury rooms at its two luxury city centre hotels, the King Street Townhouse and the Great John Street hotel, where NHS staff and police will be able to stay for free over the next three months if they need to work away from their families, with full staffing and catering and included.
In total £4m of ‘critical products’ will be distributed for free across the frontline and vulnerable homes locally, while another £5m is going towards the fight against coronavirus outside the region and internationally.
At its Warrington site, where safety measures include temperature checks as well as social distancing, staff have also been given a meal for two to take away at the end of each shift to minimise the amount they have to visit the supermarket.
Internationally, it has been providing hand sanitiser either free with orders or for £1.50 for several months and plugging shortages in vitamins and food supplements at major chains such as Boots.
In recent weeks some businesses have come in for fierce criticism for remaining open during the coronavirus crisis, but council leader Sir Richard Leese called THG a ‘shining example’ of social responsibility in the private sector.
"This is a remarkably generous move by The Hut Group which, as a manufacturer and retailer of essential nutritional and personal care products, will provide a big boost to the city's collective efforts to tackle coronavirus and its impacts,” he said.
"It reflects the sense of wider social responsibility and commitment to the city which THG have demonstrated since they first arrived here.
"The Hut Group is a shining example of how Manchester-based businesses are rising to the occasion during this difficult time, in both delivering essential products and safeguarding employees through the introduction of extensive precautionary measures since January 2020.
“It's this sense of shared purpose which will get us through this challenge."
Andy Burnham called the donation ‘incredibly generous’, a move that ‘shows Greater Manchester business at its best’.
The donation to his charity will help to support homeless people during the crisis, who are among the people most vulnerable to the virus and are currently being put up in hotel rooms across the region.
“These are challenging times for us all and it means so much to see one of our most successful home-grown companies stepping forward and giving back to our communities,” he said.
“The Hut Group’s support will enable us to provide better support to homeless people as well as recognise the selfless work of our heroic NHS staff and other frontline workers.
“I hope this announcement will provide inspiration to other businesses to do what they can to help us get through this together.”
Matthew Moulding, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of THG, said the firm ‘has an obligation to support those in need’, not just as an employer but because they can.
“Everyone at THG wants to help in any way they can. Manchester and the surrounding areas are our home and we have a huge sense of loyalty to the local community.
“Many of the products we produce are currently beyond the reach of many due to recent spikes in global demand. This is why we are working together with both the Mayor’s office and MCC to reach those who need help the most. This partnership means we can better support our incredible emergency services, key workers and local authorities, who are doing the whole of the UK proud throughout this crisis.”