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Parent Company to Canadian Footwear Chain Shumaker Launches Medical Division Amid Pandemic

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Montreal-based A2Z, which is known as a footwear company and parent company of Shumaker Shoes, has launched a new medical division as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The initiative was launched in 2020 as the pandemic took hold in Canada from mid-March to today.

“When the pandemic really hit in North America and everything was shut down, we used and leveraged a lot of the network that we have internationally, the contacts we built over decades, and we diversified,” said Ishan Singh, Chief Operating Officer of A2Z Wholesale.

“Almost a year later I will tell you that A2Z has several divisions, footwear and consumer goods is one of those divisions, the medical division is another very strong component of what our business is now.”

A2Z has been a family business for several decades. The company traditionally has been in the footwear business for three generations beginning with Singh’s grandfather in India since 1948.

“The A2Z company has always been in the sourcing and the distribution of footwear mainly and other accessories. The shift that took place in 2020 is we really diversified.”

The company started its retail division with Shumaker Shoes in 2015 and today has 13 locations all in Ontario.

Singh said the medical division, which is named Moki, is a response to the pandemic.

“Our usual business came to a halt because everything was locked down. We put on our thinking hats and said what can we do and how can we keep busy because we’ve never really been sitting idle,” said Singh. “We worked and made connections and developed a medical division and through that we were able to develop or create a few personal protective technologies.

“Two main ideas that came out of it that served to help in light of the COVID pandemic but also realistically it’s what we can envision using post COVID so that we can kind of return to what may be the new normal.”

The company is using its same importing networks to bring Personal Protective Equipment to Canada and has also created innovative PPE technology that can be used in retail spaces as well as just about anywhere else.

One product it launched is called POSTsilver, a nanosilver film that inconspicuously covers surfaces and continually breaks down harmful germs. The other is auto sanitizing gates.

“POSTsilver is a transparent film which uses silver ion particles to prevent germ transmission in public spaces,” said Singh. “The idea is to cover high touch surfaces, and this transparent film doesn’t change the look or the colour of the surface on which it’s applied but because of the technology behind it, it essentially destroys all microbes or viruses on a continuous 24/7 basis.”

Singh said the product’s use can be used practically anywhere that has high touch areas. He added that the film itself has a lifespan of five years and the proprietary technology behind it is such that it’s imbedded within the film itself and works at suppressing microbes and viruses for that time span.

“On a daily basis, we’re touching so many different things and in light of the COVID situation people’s awareness has been heightened in terms of germs and how they spread and the need to be careful and the use of hand sanitizers. It’s really widespread. It really is,” he said.

“POSTsilver is a technology that can allow retail to open up safely. You could put it on escalators in shopping centres. You can put it on those directories, the touch screen maps that shopping centres have. Anything that people would touch and realistically despite our best efforts we’re not going to be able to disinfect those areas whenever someone touches it. This is where POSTsilver comes into play because it’s a transparent film that is continuously working and you eliminate the human factor where typically they’re going in with a Windex bottle or something and you can miss a spot.

“The auto sanitizing gates are essential portals that you can place at entrances of all public spaces. This is something notably for high traffic areas where people in passing through the gates would walk through a vaporized, dry disinfectant liquid and the goal is to eliminate whatever bacteria or viruses that may be on the individual externally. So on their clothes, on their carry on bags and so on. It allows you to create a safer environment once you pass through the gates itself.”

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior National Business Journalist with Retail Insider in addition to working on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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