Bensons Workwear

Bensons Workwear - Adapting to the Pandemic by Diversifying your ProductBensons Wprkwear

Mr Moussa established Bensons Workwear in Midleton in 2012 and it swiftly made a name for its sportswear and schoolwear as well as work clothing and uniforms for industries across Ireland, France, and the UK. An experienced fashion designer, Mr Moussa started out in the textile industry at an early age. 

“Textiles is my passion and I am delighted I have had the opportunity to put my craft to good use,” he said. “As a team at Bensons, we put all our focus on developing high-quality medical garments and are proud to say that we have just become the first manufacturer in Ireland to receive CE certification.”

In response to Covid-19 and Government requests, in 2020 the company started to manufacture hospital gowns for the HSE.

Putting community first is key to success, he believes. “The pandemic has made us focus on what we do best and has really shown us the ability of the individuals when coming together to serve the community. This has helped us build a strong team that shares the same vision to teach the skill to all ages across Ireland and bring back the textile industry into this country,” he said.

“We haven’t stopped since this all began,” Beni Moussa said. “We immediately halted production of our regular stock and instead focused all our efforts on making hospital gowns and scrubs for the HSE. I knew we could do it — so we did! They say that optimistic people can live longer, so I never stop believing ‘I can do this’. There have been times when it has been challenging, but it's also very rewarding to know that we are making a difference.”

Job Creation

The company has employed and trained even more seamstresses due to demand 

“The minute we received approval from the HSE for our gowns and fabrics we started producing large quantities — we went from production capacity of 400 gowns per day to exceeding 3,000 units daily,” said Mr Moussa. 

In addition to all staff retaining their jobs, the company is also looking for others to join the ranks to helpproduce the much-needed PPE.“Everyone is working full time, but on flexible hours as evening suits some people better, and we are currently advertising for more seamstresses to join us. “I believe we will continue to make hospital gowns after the pandemic is over as our plan is to always have a project which will serve the community. My other objective would be to reignite the textile industry in Ireland – when you look back at the history of this country, there were a great many people who were skilled in this area and much of this seems to be lost. So if we can do our bit to bring it back to life, that would be a fantastic thing. And after the pandemic our factory will serve to teach textile skills in order to have more garments made in Ireland.”

Bensons Workwear 2Irish Production

The coronavirus climate has also prompted Bensons founder Beni Moussa to think about how the fashion and clothing industry can be tailored to benefit communities in Munster and across Ireland long-term. Manufacturing clothing competitively in Ireland rather than relying on imported textiles is possible, he believes. 

“In recent years, we were taught how to import goods instead of producing them ourselves, we now feel it is important as a country that we become more self-sufficient and go back to making our own clothing — importing should be our last resort,” said Mr Moussa.

“As businesses, we need to find the right medium between how much we are importing and how much we are exporting out of Ireland and ensure we are supporting local manufacturing. In the future, I would like to see more clothing factories being set up in rural communities so that people don’t have to commute to bigger cities and I would like to see the skill being taught to the youth so that this trade will last and Ireland can be known for its textile industry once again. Our clothing factory is expanding to a much bigger space rapidly and we are finding more and more people wanting to get back to creativity, crafts, sewing, and design

"We feel Ireland is the right place geographically to make this happen, people’s attitude towards business and success is unique and their support is so special," said Mr Moussa.

Bensons now plans to export its Irish-made clothing to the rest of Europe and the USA as well as employ more machinists, cutters, seamstresses, packers, and sales staff in both Cork and Dublin. 

LEO Supports

Having sourced large amounts of fabric from Irish suppliers, Bensons, which have already received a TAME grant (Technical Assistance for Micro Exporters) and a Business Expansion Grant, have already delivered the first batch of medical grade garments to the front line and will continue to do so for as long as is necessary. Moussa, whose company is based in Midleton, Co Cork, is encouraging other companies affected by the pandemic, to speak to their Local Enterprise Office for advice and to try and think of ways in which they can adapt their product. “It’s easy to think there are no other options available, but I believe there is always an alternative route so it’s really crucial to keep asking yourself what your options are,” he advises. “But this crisis will end, so it’s also very important for people feeling the stress of it all, to look after themselves, keep positive, do some exercise and be mindful of the effect that this may have on their morale.”

“With the help of a business expansion grant from Local Enterprise Office South Cork and some expert advice, we purchased more fabric from an Irish supplier, materials such as cutting tables and sewing machines and opened our doors to hire skilled workers to help us fulfil capacity and achieve our aim.

“At the height of the pandemic, we worked day and night to accelerate our production to support frontline workers in every way we could. The people we have at Bensons are the key to our success, they are really an amazing team, we adapted together and exceeded our own expectations of what we can achieve.”