THE country clothing firm J Barbour and Sons, which is favoured by rock stars, ramblers and royalty, saw its sales jump by more than one third last year.
The South Shields-based firm may have built its reputation on waxed jackets but stressed again this year that sales are being driven by the increasing popularity of its broadening range of products to include knitwear and shirts.
Sales rose 35% last year to £121.6m, almost double their size five years ago, with profits at the company up to £17.25m from £11.9m in 2010.
The 98-year-old firm’s growing clothing range, marketed as quintessentially English countrywear and a hip youth brand, has increased its reputation overseas in recent years and stores are increasingly carrying the range worldwide.
It began producing contemporary and heritage lines in 2000 alongside its sporting ranges and is continuing attempts to broaden its appeal to beat the sluggish performance of the European clothing market.
Managing director Steve Buck said: “Barbour continues to experience strong growth and we are satisfied with our 2011 results. It is a testimony to the owners and all of the staff that our workmanship and enduring quality are recognised by our customers. The conditions in world markets continue to be challenging and the increased cost in raw materials mean that profits are more difficult to build.”
The privately-owned firm is more than just a major employer in South Shields and chairman Dame Margaret Barbour has led the Barbour Foundation to support charities, cultural and women’s groups and has confirmed a large sum has been pledged to Newcastle University Faculty of Medical Sciences towards genetic research.