WALES could become the new manufacturing heartland in the UK, a businessman has said.

The DRB Group, based in Deeside, has taken on many challenges to adapt to the coronavirus outbreak so they can continue to run their business and ensure staff safety.

CEO Matt Bennett said: “In honesty, I was as guilty as anyone as being a bit blasé and not thinking it (Covid-19) was a big deal, we had seen SARS and this was unlikely to have any real effect.

“Very quickly it became apparent I had been wrong. We had to get in front of it and make sure we were in a position to get out successfully and help our customers.

“We needed to keep open and keep staff safe so it was about how we would do that. What we do for a living is problem solve, so we employed that thinking.

“It’s about how we take a win out of an awful situation. Trillions of pounds have been lost around the world so we need to search for those positives.”

The team allowed many people to work from home and cleaned out old offices to create more space for those unable to work from home.

Mr Bennett told the Leader that despite the difficulties, businesses must adapt to the new normal and although industries will be hard hit, the manufacturing industry would unlikely be overwhelmed.

He said: “I think as a sector it will survive, but in that there will be catastrophes, huge areas of the sector will be decimated. The aircraft industry won’t recover, the golden age of flight has been and gone.

“The job cuts at Airbus were inevitable, people won’t want to fly the way they have been but should they? We can’t endlessly use the planet’s resources in the way we have done and expect no backlash.

“Traditional manufacturing of a diesel engine for example there will be a massive decline but those companies will develop new opportunities.

“We need to push made in Wales, push made in UK. Use those supply chains and all scale manufacturers.

“If we looked at it one a micro-scale, people have stopped shopping in large supermarkets and gone to their local shop to get supplies. As soon as the world goes back to normal, do we turn our backs on those people?

“I don’t think we should. We should work hard to push ethics of businesses and use small and local as much as possible.

“This has hurt China massively, but do we want to do business in that way moving forward? We enforce standards in the UK that aren’t enforced anywhere else. Let’s push made in Wales.

“We have Brexit, but we need to make that a positive, it has to work for us. What can we not make in our area, we could become new manufacturing heartland in the UK.

“Let’s make sure we buy a Toyota from the factory around the corner, we visit pubs supplied by KK Fine Foods, shop in Morrisons and Iceland which are local to us, there’s all these things we can do to support our economy and local businesses.”

Mr Bennett said that it is not just companies which have changed and will change the way they do things, our culture has also changed.

He added: “All of this will be in place for at least a year and anyone who thinks this is just going to go away is incorrect. You underestimate what this is.

“Culturally, have we changed after so long? I do think there are going to be long-lasting changes. Will we ever go back to a world where we hug and shake hands?

“I’m not risk averse, but if you say to me restaurants will open tomorrow, I wouldn’t go. It’s going to take time.

“Saturday morning used to be carnage, there was a pressure to get out and have a big day out, but now it’s sort of relaxed into going for a walk and a play and having some downtime.

“The other positives to come out of this is that in the last two months I’ve spent more time with my kids than I have done since they were born.”