“Everyone is talking about relocation but continues to buy in Asia”. On the phone, Guy Hascoët does not hide his bitterness. Because the Coop des masques, a project that he has been carrying at arm’s length for over a year, is currently going through a very complicated period. In lack of cash, the manufacturing plant for surgical masks and FFP2 is even threatened with bankruptcy.
“We arrive at a time when we find ourselves in difficulty in relation to our own funds because it does not come out enough”, assures the chairman of the board of directors of the cooperative society. In the hangar of the Coop des masques, installed since the end of 2020 in the industrial zone of Grâces near Guingamp (Côtes-d’Armor), six million masks are in fact waiting to find a buyer.
Almost 98% of masks come from Asia
How did we come to this when the project aroused so much hope and enthusiasm when production started in January? The government was pushing for a production of masks “made in France” to reduce our dependence. If a French sector quickly emerged, purchases did not follow with nearly 98% of French purchases of masks which are still made to Asia. “In many places, public or private, people have not understood that relocating also requires changing the rules, deplores Guy Hascoët. Because if the rule is still that of the lowest bidder, no one here can compete with the Chinese three-cent masks ”.
From a shortage situation, with only 3.5 million units produced per week before the health crisis, we now also find ourselves with a profusion of masks and 100 million units produced today. As a result, stocks were largely replenished with even overstocking. “There is no need because everyone has stocks for almost over a year,” said the former Secretary of State for the Solidarity Economy of the Jospin government.
The broken promises of some
Now converted into a business manager, Guy Hascoët finally denounces the broken promises of certain elected officials who have not honored their orders from the Coop des masques. In order to save the Breton factory and its 23 employees from bankruptcy, he is now appealing for help. “Our destiny is in the hands of all those who can place an order, both large national accounts, municipalities or health professionals,” he says.
To sell its merchandise, the Coop des masques has also launched a major destocking operation in recent days with promotions of 30 to 50% on batches of masks. “If we do not find the money, we will not be able to continue,” he blurted out.