A BOLTON-based e-liquid firm has switched its operation to provide desperately needed hand sanitiser to frontline workers.

Freshmist, based on the outskirts of the town centre, is supplying 20,000 bottles of the hand sanitiser a day to those who need it ­— from health workers to local authorities ­— as well as the general public.

Dean Holmes said switching the operation from providing e-liquid for electronic cigarettes to the hand sanitiser, called Stay Safe, has meant he is producing a much needed product and is able keep his staff on during what is proving to a desperate time for businesses.

Operations were switched after a desperate need for hand sanitiser emerged.

The 37-year-old, from Bolton, said: “I sat the staff down at the start of this and said that we could come through this by using the equipment we had, the base and experience to produce hand sanitiser, of which there was a huge shortage of.

“The staff have rents and bills to pay.

“We have only been doing this for about three or four weeks and have taken on an additional 14 members of staff, have a seven-day operation and have changed the shifts from 9am to 5pm to 6am to 2pm and 2pm to 10pm.

“The NHS and other organisations are crying out for sanitiser.

“We have supplied a local GP surgery and the shortage of bottles means that hospitals are sending bottles so we can fill them.”

Fortunately the nature of Dean’s business means he has bottles already which can be used.

Dean said orders for the sanitiser were coming from NHS teams in the south, as well as nursing homes, local authorities.

He is also providing the product to be sold to the general public through convenience stores.

The bottles are price marked so it cannot be raised, because says Dean the production of hand sanitiser is about helping people to stay safe as the country battles covid-19 and not about cashing in.

Freshmist first opened in 2013 and has a number of outlets throughout Bolton.

With the outbreak of the coronavirus, the business would have had to shut and staff put on furlough.

But thanks to a huge investment by Dean, not only have the staff kept their jobs, with more taken on, they are taking extra care with the product they put out.

Dean said: “The hand sanitiser we are manufacturing is 80 per cent alcohol. A high level of alcohol is needed to fight the coronavirus.”