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A closed IKEA store stands in Berlin on March 17, 2020.

Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

IKEA, the world’s biggest furniture brand, said on Tuesday it has started making protective gear such as aprons and face masks for hospitals battling the spread of coronavirus, and aims to step up output further.

Demand for its office furniture is holding up well as many work from home due to the coronavirus, Henrik Elm, global purchase manager at brand owner Inter IKEA Group, which is in charge of supply, told Reuters.

He said supply chain disturbances had increased as the coronavirus spread to Europe and America, with malfunctioning or closed borders a key bottleneck.

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IKEA had however been prepared and was able to mitigate such barriers relatively well, partly by spreading inventories to warehouses in several locations, he said in an interview.

Elm said he expected no shortages of wood and other raw materials. One area of concern was finding room to store goods already in transit to markets where IKEA has temporarily closed many of its stores.

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