Fitting their employees in masks, a headache for companies

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New Caledonia structures a production chain for masks





© AFP
New Caledonia structures a production chain for masks


“How much does the machine cost to make the masks in-house?” In a small Sunday reflection, the boss of the data server company OVHcloud Octave Klaba was trying to assess what it would cost him to equip all his employees with masks.

Prime Minister Tuesday confirmed that masks would become the norm in companies. If it is not a question of obliging but only “inviting” companies to equip their employees, the head of government has hinted that it was a “condition (…) of recovery ” of the activity. He also stressed that “the regions and the state will put in place support for very small businesses and the self-employed”.

Still, the cost will be far from trivial for SMEs, mid-caps and larger groups. Octave Klaba assesses it at 1.5 million euros for his company, based on a price of 1.5 euros per mask.

“Accessible to the majority of French people”

In reality, it is particularly difficult to assess the average purchase price of a mask, which can vary from a few cents to a few euros each. First, what mask? Surgical? FFP2? The cost is much higher for the second. Above all, wholesale prices have exploded, due to the peak of the epidemic. On the other hand, in the coming months, the cost should mechanically drop due to the very high production which is being set up all over the world.

Cdiscount, meanwhile, started selling last week 60 million masks for VSEs and SMEs, at a price of 75 cents per unit (with a minimum of 50 masks per order).

The government is already working on “the user price, to make it accessible to the majority of French people”, said Secretary of State for Economy Agnès Pannier-Runacher, since masks must also be offered to the general public. However, prices will not be framed, as for hydroalcoholic gel, so as not to “slow innovation.”

Reusable masks

But these masks will be reusable masks and not surgical masks or FFP2. “To get an idea of ​​the price, you have to relate the price of the reusable textile mask to the number of washes. A 1.50 euro mask that can be washed 30 times is a mask that costs 5 cents per use,” said Agnes again. Pannier-Runacher in The echoes. Enough to lower the overall score if companies have to take out the checkbook.

But there is another problem: the shortage of masks. It is not certain that all companies will manage to find enough of them for their employees.

There remains the option of having a real mask production line. This is for example the choice already done by the city of Geneva, at a cost of around 660,000 euros. And we must add the cost of the raw material, electricity and labor to run it as well as the costs related to the storage of the masks produced. An expense unthinkable for most companies but which could ultimately interest large groups and manufacturers, especially since the epidemic could come back in several waves. Already, on Alibaba, Chinese sellers offer small chains of production, for an unbeatable price of nearly $ 60,000 … But without guarantee on quality.

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