One of Scotland’s leading suppliers of personal protective equipment (PPE), branded workwear and janitorial supplies has received £500,000 in support from HSBC UK to manage increased orders for life-saving equipment for key workers during the Covid-19 crisis.

Suresafe Protection, based in Cumbernauld, has seen demand for medical and commercial PPE equipment across the UK soar since the outbreak of Covid-19.

HSBC UK’s support means it can now handle the increased orders as well as payments from suppliers overseas.

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Equipment being produced and transported across the UK includes hand sanitiser gel and soap, goggles, masks, gowns and aprons. Suresafe has also been designing new products such as high-visibility clothing and social distancing tape.

Trevor Lang, Managing Director, Suresafe, said: “We understand the urgency and the critical role our business plays amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.

"It has been a challenging time for us, like many others, as we navigate the increased prices and shortened supply of raw materials while the need for PPE rises. The funding received from HSBC UK allows us to continue this vital work for the UK which minimises risk and saves lives.”

Suresafe is on critical supplier lists for Police Scotland, Curry’s PC World, Farmfoods, NHS carehomes and ambulance centres and assists the Home Office with sourcing and procurement of urgent certified PPE supplies to the UK.

Susan Rowand, of HSBC UK said: “We are acutely aware of the gravitas of the national effort to make available the necessary PPE equipment for key workers and are therefore delighted to support Suresafe and help the business meet demand and fulfil orders for this crucial equipment.”

Epipole, the video retinal imaging specialist, today announced that it has secured £1.5 million in new funding to prepare for introduction into the United States ophthalmic imaging market.

The financing was led by new investor Greenwood Way Capital with the Scottish Investment Bank, the investment arm of Scottish Enterprise, also participating. Epipole also announced the appointment of Ian Stevens as Chairman.

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Fife-based Epipole’s patented technology enables clinicians to scan the retina using real-time video and then extract high quality images for further examination.

Retinal cameras are typically large and costly desktop systems, but Epipole believes it can revolutionise the sector with its portable design and cost-effective pricing.

“We’ve worked with ophthalmologists to test and refine features and capabilities, and will use this funding to implement the key changes needed,” said Dr Craig Robertson, founder and chief executive of Epipole. “We will have a particular focus on the US primary care optometry and ophthalmology markets, and plan to have product available by early 2021.”

“I am pleased to welcome Ian Stevens as chairman,” added Robertson. “His broad commercial experience and specific expertise in retinal imaging will be valuable to us as we introduce our products to the eyecare market.”

Scotland's economy may not return to its pre-coronavirus level until summer 2024 if there is a second wave of the disease, economists have warned.

A new report from experts at the Fraser of Allander Institute think tank said the "Scottish economy is now in its deepest recession in living memory".

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It added recovery could take four years in the worst-case scenario if there was another spike of cases and stringent lockdown measures had to be reimposed.

In the most optimistic scenario, assuming the easing of restrictions goes "smoothly", it said it is possible the Scottish economy could get back to pre-crisis levels by late 2021 or early 2022.

The report comes after figures last week showed GDP in Scotland plummeted 18.9% in April.

Although the report said this fall was "unprecedented" it added it was "broadly what was expected given the scale of the mothballing of large sectors of the economy".

The number of Scots in receipt of the Universal Credit also rose to more than 440,000 in May - more than double the total of 185,000 recorded in the same month last year.

With more than 750,000 people in Scotland either furloughed or being supported through the UK Government's self-employment scheme, the think tank fears a possible "raft of redundancies and business closures" when this help starts to be scaled back.

Its latest economic commentary said: "The immediate priority for many businesses is survival.

"But expect a spike in closures and job losses as firms look ahead to the rolling back of the furlough support later in the year."

The report said Government support has provided an "invaluable safety net" during the crisis, with "around £10 billion of funding support for the Scottish economy through additional resources for the Scottish Government and various business support schemes".

Looking ahead, it said there is "an optimistic view that if firms survive the immediate next few weeks and the re-start of key sectors goes smoothly, the recovery may build momentum relatively quickly".

Provided there is no second spike of infections, "economic activity could pick-up sharply as demand returns", the report added.

But it warned the "effects of the crisis could be more significant", saying if there is a more gradual recovery it could be "towards the end of 2022" before economic output returns to pre-crisis levels.

Fraser of Allander director Professor Graeme Roy said: "The near 20% drop in economic activity in April for Scotland highlights the scale of the economic crisis that we face.

"So far, as a result of the major Government support initiatives that have been put in place - including around 750,000 employees furloughed or supported through the self-employment scheme - the impact of the full effects of the crisis have been dampened.

"Sadly, it is only now once we start to switch the economy back on that the crisis will hit home with a raft of redundancies and business closures likely over the summer."