He has assisted in protecting countless lives during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic – and now Michael Saiger, who provided millions of items of high-quality PPE to the British government during the coronavirus crisis, wants to take his work further to help health care systems across the world.

“I don’t need to say how bad the pandemic was, but the crisis has taught us that we can do so many things better, whether that’s hybrid working or connectedness,” says Michael. “And it’s also shown that there is space in the health care market for disrupters who do things differently.”

Michael’s work during COVID-19 saw him win multiple contracts from the U.K. government to supply PPE.

Michael remembers: “The U.K. government was issuing calls for help because its relevant existing supply chains had failed or couldn’t be relied upon to meet the critical requirements. I didn’t know anyone in the U.K. government, but I immediately knew I could help, I desperately wanted to, and I knew that my experience and expertise would give them what they needed – even at a time when the world was scrambling to get hold of PPE to protect their frontline health care workers. I knew I could do it.”

Michael’s belief stemmed from his time leading the Miansai fashion brand he had founded 15 years earlier. That had involved him expertly sourcing, producing and distributing high-quality goods sourced at best value from reputable factories in Asia, as well as an extensive network of contacts there.

He submitted responses to the standard and open procurement process under the name of a new business, Saiger LLC (DBA Laif.Works), and was awarded a number of initial contracts.

“Alongside my experience of working Asia, we have always been an agile and nimble business, able to move rapidly, and it all came together to mean we delivered for the U.K. in terms of speed, quality and value at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Michael. “The principles of contacting factories, getting manufacturing going, establishing supply lines and then distributing products were the same as I had always done for Miansai. None of it was easy, though – it was a highly competitive market and you had to move fast. But few others, especially traditional health care suppliers, were able to match us.”

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Members of Laif.Works’ sourcing team were physically located in Asia on an ongoing basis – as a part of the world where established personal relationships are key to doing business, this was vital in obtaining high-quality products in priority time and to tight production schedules set by the U.K. government, as Laif.Works was working with factories that were completely overbooked. Despite the challenges, Laif.Works delivered the products to the head of the line and organized production.

“It was a huge feat to do this within a short time period and to the size and scale that the U.K. government needed to keep as many people safe as possible,” says Michael. “But it ensured we delivered for Britain at a critical moment. It was seriously hard work and super-long hours, and I remain very proud that we were able to provide for the National Health Service’s doctors, nurses and hospital staff in their time of need.”

Laif.Works delivered all goods in accordance with the contracts and to the technical specifications requested, distributed them on time and at good value, with its price about half the average price of approximately 15,000 offers made to the U.K. government for the items required. The U.K. government has said Laif.Works’ quote was one of the most affordable available and considered to be highly competitive.

Testament to Michael’s success was that the U.K. government commissioned Laif.Works to procure more PPE after the initial contracts. In all, the business was awarded six contracts over 18 months of the pandemic, totaling $334 million – and delivered on every item in each contract, providing millions of pieces of PPE to the U.K., at a lower-than-average cost quoted by other bidders. These included but were not limited to hand sanitizer, medical and non-medical grade masks, wipes, gloves, face shields, gowns and goggles.

“We did things differently to the traditional big suppliers, who operate so much more slowly and just don’t have the speed that was needed. Doing the PPE work has inspired me to carry on helping organizations, entities and hospitals obtain products and safety equipment during times of need – without worry or concern that they will ever be lacking medical necessities. Organizations should be assured that we can not only produce but also distribute at a fast pace and deliver high volumes – we have demonstrated that we can do that, and we did that in the most challenging environment of all: the peak of a global pandemic. Not only that, but the Laif.Works products were revolutionary in that our designs were more inclusive and better fitting for all types of people and backgrounds, something previous PPE was not able to achieve, making it a modernized medical experience.”

Michael adds: “You have to make sure that out of the worst times, some good can happen. If we can revolutionize the way that health care systems are supplied, so that they get high-quality items fast and at a great price, then that will be at least some consolation.”