Many businesses have been severely impacted by the pandemic. A company that felt this pain first-hand was Angela International, a family business producing shoes and leather goods under the brand name Papucei (little shoes). Based in Iasi, Romania, Papucei had around 250 international customers, and exports accounted for 95% of production.

In 2020, the business came under immense difficulty because of COVID-19, reducing international orders and limiting online sales significantly. Shoe production had to be stopped and many employees lost their jobs.

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In response, the company restructured its production lines and started manufacturing protective equipment for the COVID-19 pandemic, such as face masks, disposable coveralls, aprons and face shields.

Daily output soon reached 900 masks and 1 500 face shields. However, the products were not certified and therefore could not be sold on the wider market. Papucei needed to adapt to meet a number of standards.

It decided to implement the EN ISO 9001 standard, to prove that its products met customers’ demands and regulatory requirements.

With this support, Papucei produced and sold thousands of pieces of protective equipment on the Romanian market, established a sales agents’ network and received new orders from Germany and Italy. By summer 2020, Angela International was also able to resume its regular shoe production and is now successfully managing two business lines.