A surge in demand for cleaning products due to coronavirus has not changed plans to close McBride’s factory in Barrow, the company has confirmed.

In an update to the London Stock Exchange, the company said it was – so far – meeting increased demand for products including bleach, anti-bacterial and disinfecting sprays along with some dish and laundry cleaning products.

However, the surge, which started at the beginning of March, does not alter plans to shut down its laundry powder manufacturing facility in the town in the summer at a cost of 106 jobs.

A McBride spokesperson confirmed: “There has been no change to the plans for Barrow from those previously announced.”

The company – which is yet to provide a firm date for the closure – has blamed the consumer shift from laundry powders to liquid for its decision to shut down the Park Road factory.

Confirming the closure last month – after the plans were exclusively revealed by The Mail in December – the company revealed work currently being carried out at the Barrow site would move to its other laundry powder production factories at Moyaux in France and Foetz in Luxembourg.

McBride has said it is helping its Barrow employees to find other jobs.

In its latest statement, the company said it was unclear if the surge in demand for its products was due to increase consumption or short-term consumer stockpiling.

Its factories remained open and were “operating at varying levels of production”, although McBride added: “Our ability to operate at full production is constrained by labour attendance, certain material supplies and, increasingly, distribution challenges for both inbound and outbound materials.

“At this time excess demand levels are being met for the most part from a combination of inventory and choices of production priorities.

“As Europe progressively 'locks down' we may see further restrictions on our ability to operate factories to match demand levels.

“We are working on output optimisation through measures such as recruitment of additional labour, customer prioritisation, range simplification and haulage optionality.

“Our amazing teams are working tirelessly to ensure we satisfy demand levels and we are grateful for the flexibility our customers and suppliers are affording at this time.”

McBride added that any short-term improvements in revenues were “likely to be tempered by reduced factory efficiencies”, and confirmed it was “actively limiting” discretionary spend and postponing or cancelling capital projects.

“At this time, and in light of the factors outlined above, we are unable to offer any update on guidance for the current financial year,” it added.

McBride is undertaking a review of its strategy, organisation and operations in a bid to reverse its financial fortunes.

In a trading update for the six months ending December 31, it reported a 50.4 per cent drop in pre-tax profits to £6.6 million and a 5.1 per cent fall in revenues to £350.4m.

MrBride has been battling a challenging and changing consumer market for a number of years, forcing it to keep a close eye on overhead costs – with the biggest victim so far being its Barrow factory.