In a picture that sums up the strangeness of 2020, a mysterious figure clad all in white patrols racks of board games, jigsaw puzzles and other toys, firing a chemical mist from his spray gun.
He’s one of the good guys, applying a new anti-Covid fogging treatment that coats touch points and products to keep the World Wide Shopping Mall in Malton open for business, and their customers safe on Christmas Day.
With a product range extending into healthcare and homewares, the company is seeing a silver lining to the Covid cloud and it has brought in Hessle-based Fox Group to lead its safety first approach.
Fox Group acted quickly when the first lockdown was introduced in March, sourcing the anti-viral mist also used on London’s tube network and applying it to premises including medical centres, schools and offices.
As the hospitality sector returned to work during the summer, Managing Director Andrew Fox sent his teams to spray pubs and restaurants including The Westwood in Beverley.
With Christmas approaching, Fox Group is now supplying an enhanced treatment which coats everything that is sprayed, forming a barrier to keep Covid at bay for up to 90 days. The company expanded into retail in readiness for shops opening their doors and is also working in a wide range of other business sectors.
World Wide Shopping Mall, which was founded online more than 20 years ago and has operated a mini-department store of several small shops in Malton since 2003, is currently focusing on web orders with a staff of 20 servicing demand from customers across the UK and internationally.
Simon Chalk, one of the directors of the company, said: “The lead-up to Christmas is clearly a busy time here at the Mall, which means our staff are working harder, and longer hours.
“It highlights the importance of keeping our working environment as safe as we can, and the efforts of the fogging team have given us that extra peace of mind in creating a safe working environment.”
The physical shops at World Wide Shopping Mall are still closed because the units are small and not considered safe for customers social distancing. But the company is operating a click and collect service, with deliveries further afield, and brought in Fox Group to fog shops, offices and storage areas.
Andrew said: “In the past we had to take a reactive approach – when a Covid case was reported we carried out a deep clean which included the fogging procedure. The new system is a lot more effective and makes it much easier for businesses to plan ahead.
“It prevents Covid from settling on surfaces including all touch points and is still effective if the virus mutates. It works on fabrics, plastics, metal, ceramics, carpet, timber and depending on the environment in which it is used it can be effective for up to 90 days. We guarantee it for a minimum of 60 days and we can carry out weekly tests to make sure it is still effective.
“We have sourced it from one of our suppliers who have also provided it to one of the major parcel delivery firms, and we take confidence that they are relying on this product as they approach the most hectic period of a busy year in that sector.”
Simon said: “Covid has brought a surge in internet ordering which means we have been able to keep our business open even during the darkest days of lockdown. Keeping our staff in jobs is vitally important to our operation. They are like family to us, and their welfare and safety is paramount. As such we were looking for a simple and cost effective way of helping to keep our workplace safe and became aware of Andrew’s company.
“Since the first lockdown, we have seen a huge demand for Health products for immune support, such as Vitamin C and Vitamin D3 and Zinc. We have also seen a surge in sale of homeware products such as mugs, wine glasses and other kitchenware items, maybe because people have been unable to go out and have dined in more at home.
“In our toys and games department we have seen a big increase in the sale of puzzles and model kits and we sold out of adult puzzles back in August! Educational related toys have also seen an increase, helping parents with home schooling, and Lego is still our top selling brand. We simply cannot get enough stock. Whatever comes in goes straight out.”