Shepparton plays role in ending coronavirus

By Charmayne Allison

Shepparton is playing its part in tackling coronavirus, with staff at the local Pental plant working overtime sending bleach-based products and disinfectants to China to meet exploding demand.

And this increase is only forecast to continue, with a multi-million-dollar swell in Shepparton sales predicted for the next 12 months.

A manufacturer of home and personal care products in Australia and New Zealand, Pental’s iconic brand portfolio includes White King, Country Life, LUX and Huggies.

More than 125 local staff at the Shepparton plant have been working tirelessly to meet the booming demand for Pental’s products — including an “excessive amount” of bleach — since the outbreak of novel coronavirus.

“This should make everyone in Shepparton feel proud,” Pental chief executive Charlie McLeish said.

“This isn’t just about capitalising on the situation and making additional profits; this is also about contributing and making a difference.”

Mr McLeish said Pental was currently in the process of developing two new products, set to hit the Shepparton plant in the coming weeks, in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

“We're developing a one-litre disinfectant and 500 ml spray bottle disinfectant for White King. We've also developed a 500 ml antibacterial hand wash for Country Life.

“We've never had disinfectant or anti-bacterial hand wash on the market.

“So when the demand came in, instead of saying flat-out ‘no’, we said ‘of course we can'.”

Production on the hand wash will begin next week, while the two White King products will kick off a week later.

The rising demand places Pental in a solid position, with the company’s half-year results showing a 15.1 per cent increase in sales revenue on the previous corresponding period.

But Mr McLeish insisted this wasn’t just a win for Pental, but for Shepparton as well.

“Not only does this boom in demand help lift the stability of the company, it helps lift the stability of manufacturing in Shepparton,” he said.

“We need to grow our plant, not lay people off.

“The morale is great in the factory at the moment. And we’re lucky to employ really good, salt-of-the-earth staff who have remained faithful.”