Coronavirus (COVID-19): Intermarché to start producing face masks

Date : 06 May 2020

Maxime Delacour

Senior Retail Analyst

French retailer Intermarché it set to open five production lines dedicated to face masks at one of its private label manufactures.

Face masks to be part of the ‘new normal’

The French government made a series of announcement at the end of April and in early May regarding the end of the lockdown and the use of face masks by the general public:

  • Face masks will be mandatory for users of public transport and other public institutions, such as high schools
  • Companies where social distancing measures are in place won’t need to make face masks mandatory, therefore, leaving the choice to employees to wear them
  • Finally face masks won’t be mandatory in stores, but wearing them is highly recommended

To supply enough masks to the population rapidly, the government announced on 24 April that retailers will be able to sell them. All major retailers were quick to react and started to sell them on 4 May. Retailers are not making any profit on the masks and are selling them at cost price.

Intermarché aims to produce 135m face masks annually

All masks currently sold in supermarkets are imported, mainly from China. Intermarché, therefore, is the first retailer to announce the start of its own production, at one of its private label manufactures. Production is expected to start in July 2020, with a team of 50 employees.

Intermarché has an extensive range of private label products across all grocery categories. The production is managed by Intermarché’s manufacturing arm, Agromousquetaires, which oversees 62 manufacturers across the country. The masks will be produced at one plant, which is in Brittany, Les Celluloses de Broceliande, which supplies the retailer’s health and beauty and baby products, including nappies.

To enable the production of 135m masks, five new production lines are being built. This is a key step for the retailer in becoming less dependent on imports and is aligned with the wider trend to relocate products’ production as close to home markets as possible. Some of the masks will be made available for public services, such as hospitals. The French government has already placed an order to support the launch of the new production line.

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