Clothing company Barbour pays out £10m dividend as sales rise 10%

Turnover rose to £167m at the South Tyneside-headquartered firm as demand grew for its 'Made in the UK' products

Dame Margaret Barbour
Dame Margaret Barbour

Barbour paid shareholders a £10m dividend after demand for its popular clothing drove up sales 10% to £167.35m.

South Shields-headquartered J Barbour & Sons, which trades as Barbour, said the group – which operates through wholesale, retail, e-commerce and licensing - continued to perform strongly in 2014 in a competitve market.

Latest accounts filed with Companies House for 2014 also show that Barbour paid an equity dividend of £10m in 2014, £1m more than in 2013.

The family are the sole shareholders of the business and heavily involved in its running.

The accounts also show that while turnover grew from £152.3m to £167.35m, operating profit dropped slightly from £29.44m to £29.35m, having been impacted by “a major increase in distribution costs”.

The firm said it sought to solve this through the introduction of a two-shift system, but in January, the Journal reported how staff took strike action at the Barbour warehouse in Gateshead, having already carried out a six-day strike in December over new contractual changes which would require employees to work until 11pm, and the removal of extra payment for unsocial hours.

In a report accompanying the accounts filed at Companies House, director Dame Margaret Barbour said: “A major increase in distribution costs has made a significant impact on the profit to the business with focus on the central warehousing hub in the UK.

“A move to a two shift system to support efficiency and costs was significantly delayed due to influence outside our control and we hope to see a significant improvement in costs and efficiency now the system is in operation.

“The decrease in cash held in the year of £2.8m (2013 increase £8.7m) reflects the delay in the movement of stock throughput with significant strategic activity focus on this area in 2014.”

The firm said it remain focussed on it long term vision as a true global lifestyle brand, having expanded its range outside of its famed waxed jackets several years ago.

It said its manufacturing facility continues to enhance the heritage of the brand, operating at full capacity to satisfying increased demand for ‘Made in the UK’ products from home and overseas customers.

The wholesale side of the business, which operates through the UK, and through subsidiaries in Germany and the US, saw 11% growth in the period, while the other channels of retail and e-commerce represented growth of 16%, mainly due to expansion in new store openings globally and the launch of online offerings in Germany and the UK.

Headcount at the firm grew significantly over the year, from an average of 818 employees to 989.

A Barbour spokesman said: “In 2015, global market conditions continue to be challenging and pressure continues on our distribution and other costs. However, the business continues to make good progress. The US and Asia continue to grow strongly and sales of newer ranges of shirts, tops, jeans and footwear are very strong.”

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