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COVID crisis: Manufacturing giant BIC donates face shields 

PHOTO | Courtesy BIC Face shields like this one are being donated to health-care workers and other first responders.

BIC, best known for making shavers, pens and lighters, started distributing face shields this month to help keep health-care workers and other first responders safe as they treat patients stricken with the coronavirus.

The company, which has a U.S. headquarters in Shelton, started making the personal protective equipment at its Milford manufacturing facility in late April, according to Robert Miller, senior manager of global external communications for the company. 

Gonzalve Bich, the France-based company’s CEO, said BIC strongly believes it has both the opportunity and responsibility to contribute during the crisis. 

“Our thoughts are with all those who have been impacted by COVID-19,” Bich said in an announcement. “We send our heartfelt gratitude to all the doctors, nurses, paramedics, factory workers and first responders putting themselves on the frontlines to protect our communities and economies.”  

As of May 20, BIC had manufactured and donated some 22,000 face shield kits, which include a headband and three plastic shields, as well as 20,000 additional replacement shields in Milford, according to Miller. 

The kits are designed so the plastic portion can be removed and sterilized, then used again.

“We have donated the shields to Connecticut hospitals, nursing homes, police and fire departments, government agencies and others,” Miller said. “The effort is ongoing.”

BIC is in the process of producing an additional 10,000 face shield kits and 40,000 replacement shields in Milford, according to Miller. 

The international company sells its products in some 160 countries. The effort to make personal protective equipment goes beyond Connecticut. Face shields also are being made at several BIC production sites around the world, such as in France, Brazil, Greece and Tunisia, and are then donated to local hospitals and governments. 

The company is also pursuing other types of personal protective equipment. In partnership with researchers, engineers and physicians, BIC is making an adaptor which can transform a full-face snorkeling mask into one suitable for use to avoid virus exposure. This mask protects the face and filters the air, according to the company.

BIC is also donating $1.5 million at retail value of pens, coloring products, other writing instruments, and razors to support local communities, hospitals, children and the homeless.  The company provided some 11,000 razors to hospitals in Connecticut and Massachusetts, noting that clean-shaven faces help masks and ventilators fit properly. 

Coronavirus' impact on business

As with most industries, the COVID-19 has also negatively impacted BIC, company officials said. 

For the first quarter of 2020, group net sales for the company totaled 357.0 (in million euros), down 14 percent from the first quarter of 2019, when group net sales were 415.4, according to the company. In late March, some BIC factories outside the United States had to temporarily halt operations due to the virus.

“The virus has definitely had an impact on business and consumer shopping habits,” Miller said this week. “While the pandemic made a difficult start to the year for BIC and most global companies, we are seeing that shopping behavior continues to evolve and our team members are working relentlessly to serve customers and ensure our safe, quality products remain available for consumers worldwide.”

Contact Michelle Tuccitto Sullo at

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