Online retail giant The Hut Group has announced a £10m aid package to support vulnerable communities, key workers and emergency services in Manchester, the UK and its international markets during the COVID-19 crisis.

The firm, known as THG, is donating £5m of aid directly into the Manchester area, the base of its headquarters and where the majority of its 7,000 workforce live and work.

Distribution of the aid package follows discussions with both Manchester City Council and the Greater Manchester Mayor's office.

It has been agreed that £1m of immediate cash donation will be halved - the first £500,000 will be given to the Lord Mayor of Manchester's charity We Love MCR, which is supporting groups and charities responding to the coronavirus issue in the city of Manchester through its COVID-19 community response fund.

A second £500,000 will be given to the Greater Manchester Mayor's Charity which helps homeless people across Greater Manchester.

A further £4m of critical products and services will be distributed across key sites in the region, including NHS staff on the frontline and more vulnerable people in the region.

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In recent weeks, THG said it has seen increased global online demand for essential vitamins, foods, supplements, personal care & hygiene products.

The surge resulted in THG announcing 500 new manufacturing and distribution jobs across its UK, European, US and Asia operations.

A final £5m of aid is being pledged by THG to areas outside of the North West, including international markets.

THG has transitioned part of its manufacturing capability to produce hand sanitisers to help meet the new global demand, and will be giving £1m free hand sanitisers to people who otherwise can’t access them, as a part of the aid being provided.

It has also pledged all 70 rooms in both of its Manchester city centre hotels, available fully staffed and catered, at no charge to support both NHS staff and Greater Manchester Police.

THG is now in the process of installing thermal imaging technology across operations, which is said will monitor the well-being of its workers.

Matthew Moulding, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of THG, said the firm had an obligation to support people affected by the pandemic.

“Many of the products we produce are currently beyond the reach of many due to recent spikes in global demand. This is why we are working together with both the Mayor’s office and MCC to reach those who need help the most. This partnership means we can better support our incredible emergency services, key workers and local authorities, who are doing the whole of the UK proud throughout this crisis.”

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “This incredibly generous donation by The Hut Group shows Greater Manchester business at its best.

“These are challenging times for us all and it means so much to see one of our most successful home-grown companies stepping forward and giving back to our communities.

“The Hut Group’s support will enable us to provide better support to homeless people as well as recognise the selfless work of our heroic NHS staff and other frontline workers. I hope this announcement will provide inspiration to other businesses to do what they can to help us get through this together.”