Free masks and hand sanitizer are provided at a subway station in Seoul on Jan. 29, 2020, amid growing fears over the fast-spreading coronavirus that originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan. (Yonhap)

SEOUL, Aug. 12 (Korea Bizwire)After being hit hard by the outbreak of the coronavirus, South Korea’s fashion and beauty companies are finding their feet again on the back of face masks and hand sanitizers.

Home-grown innerwear maker SBW Inc. is placing bigger emphasis on the production of face masks rather than its main business this year.

In response to the surge in demand for face masks since the outbreak of the coronavirus, SBW jumped in earnest into the production of face masks in June.

SBW plans to ramp up the number of face mask-producing machines it has in service up to about 50 units by the end of this year, aimed at boosting its annual KF94 face mask output to 324 million and dental face mask output to 86.4 million.

SBW recently signed a 70.8 billion won (US$59.7 million) face mask supply deal with a face mask distributor Geo-Young. The value of this contract is equivalent to 73 percent of SBW’s 2019 revenue.

Cosmetics companies, which have suffered a slump in sales with face masks becoming ubiquitous, are offsetting their losses with the production of hand sanitizer.

Cosmax Inc., a South Korean cosmetic goods manufacturer, saw its hand sanitizer sales reach 50 billion won in the first half of this year, 100 times higher than the same period last year.

The company only produced a small amount of hand sanitizer using some of its production lines last year, but has boosted the operating ratio of its hand sanitizer production lines up to 30 times.

“LG Household & Health Care also achieved record high sales in the first half of this year thanks to strong sales of personal sanitary items including hand sanitizers, despite its flagship cosmetics business being hit by the outbreak of the coronavirus,” an industry watche said.

Ashley Song ([email protected])