As a result of COVID-19, iconic local brand Mdina Glass has seen its glass furnaces turned off for nine months this year, the longest in its 52-year history.
“Keeping the furnaces (oven) on 24/7 is an immense expense, and one we could not sustain,” Mark Warner, Marketing Manager from Mdina Glass told the Malta Business Weekly. He said that 2020 has indeed been a challenging year for all businesses at Ta’ Qali crafts village. “We rely heavily on tourists, and even coach loads coming directly from the cruise ships who want to experience Mdina Glass making first-hand. Of course, this year there was none of that”. Warner also explained that many locals enjoy coming to site as well as school trips and as a non-essential business they were not able to open. When restrictions eased the company decided to stop production and not reignite the furnaces as the demand for the famous glassware wasn’t there along with the number of visitors to make it a viable option. “Never in our history have our furnaces been off for so long, occasionally we would turn them off for maintenance, but nothing as extended as this” Warner said. “We have been able to get through this challenging year with the various support schemes available.”
On the 8 June, the Prime Minister, Robert Abela, the Minister for Finance and Financial Services, Edward Scicluna and the Minister for the Economy, Investment and Small Businesses, Silvio Schembri, announced a package of measures intended to regenerate the economy following the COVID-19 pandemic. They implemented measures targeted to reduce operational costs of businesses, measures to incentivise domestic consumption and measures to support investment.
Two weeks ago, the furnaces were switched back on, and Warner hopes they will remain on until at least the end of the festive period. “Over the last few months, we channelled our efforts into e-commerce and digital marketing, since we ship world-wide and many people enjoy our products. We have seen an increase in demand online during this period, so we started to produce more stock to carry us through. We are also still going ahead with our celebrated pre-Christmas sale, but this year we will holding it from the 4th-24th across several weeks to prevent a large influx of people at once given the scenario.