Mayo based company Portwest, one of Europe’s leading manufacturers of personal protective clothing and equipment has announced the creation of 55 new jobs. Over the next four years, staff levels will increase from 75 to 130 at its head office in Westport, Co Mayo. The family-run business has been based in Westport, for over a century where the now global company is run by a trio of brothers, Cathal, Owen and Harry Hughes. The Portwest brand is sold in more than 100 countries worldwide and turnover is also expected to rise from the current level of €125 million to €250 million over the next four to five years.
In order to cater for the continued worldwide expansion, an investment of €4 million to double the size of the companies’ rural west of Ireland base will take place. Once the expansion to the offices is complete, recruitment will commence in areas of product development and design, finance, sales, supply chain, marketing, and HR.
Cathal Hughes, group chairman of Portwest, says: “We are very confident we will achieve these ambitious plans. Although the Portwest brand is sold in over 100 countries, we are also cautious that we have a long way to go to achieve maturity in a lot of these markets. We have heavily invested in staff over the last five years and are now at the planning stages to ensure we achieve further rapid growth. Part of this means we are actively looking for suitable acquisitions in both Australia and the US.”
Owen Hughes, group secretary and director in charge of acquisitions with Portwest is currently overseeing a deal to acquire an Australian workwear company which is expected to close by the end of August. “Our loyal customer base which we have built up over the years both at home and abroad will continue to play an integral part of our future. A lot of work has gone into finding the right acquisitions and then negotiating a deal. We are excited about our Australian venture as each future acquisition will result in more jobs for our Westport head office,” says Owen Hughes.
CEO of Portwest, Harry Hughes, confirms that Portwest will also expand its manufacturing divisions from current employment levels of 1,600 staff to 4,500 staff over the next four years. The company's own factory in Bangladesh will double in size to more than 3,000 staff, and a new factory in Myanmar will start taking on staff this autumn. "Our growth philosophy is very simple," he says. “More countries, more sales representatives, more customers, and more products”.
Cathal, Harry, and Owen Hughes are third generation helmsmen of Portwest which was founded by their grand-uncle Charles Hughes in 1904 and subsequently managed by their father Padraig. In 2014, the company welcomed the fourth generation of the Hughes family as Harry’s son Henry joined the business. This autumn, Cathal jnr, son of group chairman Cathal, will step into his apprenticeship.
Cathal emphasises: “While it’s very important that we have family in the business, there is also a senior management team in place that will assist manage the business into the future.” Recent non-family appointments to the company’s board include Ray Carney, head of purchasing, and Tony Kirby, head of finance.
“We have been very lucky with the quality and loyalty of our management over the years and the current success could not have been achieved without the efforts of all our staff who have made Portwest what it is today" said Cathal.