Business booming at Barbour as profits rise by 42%

Clothing company J Barbour & Sons has seen a 12% lift in turnover after increasing sales of its full wardrobe products, moving it closer to its vision of becoming a global lifestyle brand

Dame Margaret Barbour
Dame Margaret Barbour

Clothing company J Barbour & Sons has seen a 12% lift in turnover after increasing sales of its full wardrobe products, moving it closer to its vision of becoming a global lifestyle brand.

Sales rose to £136.9m last year and pre-tax profits were up by 42% to £24.3m, more than double the revenues and profits the South Tyneside-based firm reported five years ago.

Managing director Steve Buck said he was satisfied with the company’s performance and paid tribute to the hard work of staff.

While wax jackets may be the iconic product of the firm, which was first started by John Barbour in 1894, it broadened its offering in 2000 to include a whole wardrobe range of clothes and accessories, including knitwear, shirts, trousers and footwear, all of which are selling well across the globe. Looking forward, the company said it plans further growth in retail in its major markets of the UK, US and Germany.

UK turnover accounted for more than half of revenues topping £79.2m, a rise of £12m and 17.9% year-on-year, and overseas sales also rose by 6.2% to £57.8m.

The company has not recommended the payment of a dividend.

Earlier this year the South Shields factory was visited by business secretary Vince Cable who wanted to see firsthand how the firm will invest £549,000 from the Regional Growth Fund investment to expand its capacity and export to new markets, creating 130 new jobs.

The firm said in its accounts that its facility is soon set to expand to increase capacity to offer its ‘Made in UK’ products to new distribution channels.

Despite the drop in profits at its South Shields facility, Buck said he was satisfied with the 703-strong company’s performance, which show that the firm is making good progress in tough conditions.

Buck said: “Our 2012 accounts show that we continue to make good progress and we are satisfied with the results.

“Barbour’s success is down to the hard work of all our employees around the globe who are passionately involved in the brand’s growth despite the challenging marketing conditions.

“It is also a testament to the shareholders commitment to the business that they will not take a dividend this year.

“Our operating profit shows an increase from 2011. This has been, in part, due to a positive swing in pension liabilities. We have also experienced continued growth in our sales in the UK, including an increase in our non-outerwear categories such as knitwear and shirts.

“Our overseas performance has been strong, particularly in the US and Scandinavia.

“However, in the current economic climate we continue to face the challenge of rising costs and our factory in South Shields reported a bigger loss than in 2011.”

The privately-owned firm’s chairman Dame Margaret Barbour continues to support the region through The Barbour Foundation which helps charitable causes, cultural and community projects and women’s groups primarily in the North East and has donated over £11.25m to charitable causes since its inception.

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