"SCENTED hand sanitisers have saved our business", said a co-owner of The Yorkshire Soap Company.

Marcus Doyle said they had sold tens of thousands of bottles during the coronavirus lockdown, with customers topping up orders with soaps and home fragrances, bringing a welcome boost to turnover.

He said they were looking to reopen in York 'on or after June 17' once they were confident it was safe.

The Blake Street store is one of seven, with others in Hebden Bridge, Halifax, Harrogate, Knaresborough, Beverley and Leeds.

Marcus who also owns the Imaginarium with co-director, Warren Booth, said they had put on hold plans to open two more shops this year.

"We have carried out full risk assessments on all our stores, and we know we have gone way above what's needed to keep our staff and customers safe. We have secured full face visors, cotton face masks, social distancing signage, and a customer charter of entry."

They will have napkins in store for customers to use when picking up items, and sanitiser stations. They are also looking at an improved click and collect system to reduce customer numbers in store.

Of their 72 employees, 68 have been put on furlough. Following a review, the directors started redundancy consultations but were able to save most of the jobs through contractual changes, such as reduced hours or offering ad hoc or zero hour contracts. A small number have been made redundant.

"We have agreed with the members on zero hours to review after four weeks of trading," said Marcus.

"People were willing to help and still be attached to a company. It means they still get the furlough payments."

Marcus said there was a misconception that furloughing staff cost a business nothing.

"That's not totally true. Team members still accrue holiday pay."

He said if all his staff were unable to take holidays and then left the company, he would have to pay out more than £14,000.

During lockdown, The Yorkshire Soap Company has seen a rise in online sales, from sending out 50 orders a day to more than 350 at its peak.

Marcus said: "Our biggest concern is Christmas. Our business model is based upon a busy festive season. I hope we can have a safe but busy Christmas season in all our shops."

During the lockdown, The Yorkshire Soap Company has donated thousands of bottles of hand lotion to NHS staff throughout Yorkshire.