A Welsh manufacturer that can trace its life-saving work to the trenches of the Crimean war is now working to ensure that NHS Wales has the supplies it needs in the battle against Coronavirus.



For over 160 years, BCB International has built up knowledge and expertise in developing life-saving and protective equipment for British defence personnel, mariners and adventure seekers operating beyond the comfort zone.

Changing production lines in response to Covid-19

Today, the company has switched productions at its Llanelli-based site, which would normally produce its patented solidified bio-ethanol fuel products, to the creation of high strength alcohol hand sanitiser. 

In a nod to BCB’s founding father, Dr Brown’s Hand Sanitiser is named after Dr. John Collis Browne, who originally created cough medicine that brought relief to British soldiers suffering in the trenches of the Crimean war.

In addition to donating hand sanitiser and PPE equipment to emergency responders and community groups, BCB International has supplied NHS Wales with over 250,000 liters of hand sanitiser since it first placed an offer to supply Wales’ health services via a partnership with Life Sciences Hub Wales and NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership. 

As well as sanitiser products, the company has submitted offers to supply NHS Wales with additional PPE equipment such as gowns, gloves, masks and shields. 

The manufacturer has also created portable carry packs containing protective equipment that can be carried by first responders, police and those working to serve communities across Wales. 

Andrew Howell, Managing Director at BCB International said: 

“To quote Darwin: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change”. This virus is very clever, and we need to adapt quickly to it to survive. Speed and innovation is everything.”

The offers made by BCB International are an example of the numbers of Welsh manufacturers who have responded to the call to support NHS Wales. 

The work to unite industry and Wales’ health and care services is being facilitated by Life Sciences Hub Wales, as the main point of contact for industry. 

Commenting on Welsh industry’s response to Coronavirus, Cari-Anne Quinn, CEO at Life Sciences Hub Wales, said: 

“Industry’s response to the national public health emergency has been truly inspiring. BCB International is a great example of both the legacy of innovation that exists in Wales and the desire of businesses to assist in the national effort however they can.   

“Since Welsh Government announced Life Sciences Hub Wales as the main point of contact for industry, we have refocussed our efforts in a bid to support health and social care buyers in the management and triage of the high volume of supply offers in response to the current health crisis.

“Our work with industry, NHS Wales and social care has resulted an in efficient and effective approach that helps secure access to safe and legitime products, protecting patients and those who are working on the frontline of our health and social care sectors.”

Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales, Ken Skates, said:

“Businesses across Wales continue to go above and beyond to support our NHS and ultimately save lives.

“I am immensely grateful to each and every company for the significant contribution they make in helping us deal with coronavirus by offering their wealth of expertise and experience.

“The fact BCB International started off making cough syrup for British troops in 1854 and is now providing hand sanitiser gel to help beat this virus is a testament to their longevity and versatility as a business.

“I would also like to thank Life Sciences Hub Wales and its staff for the crucial role it continues to play in supporting our efforts.”

Next steps…

Any businesses looking to submit offers of support in the fight against Coronavirus should do so via Life Sciences Hub Wales' online portal.