Portwest acquires major Australian workwear business in €7.5 million deal

Owen Hughes, Henry Hughes, Cathal Hughes, and Harry Hughes from Portwest

Owen Hughes, Henry Hughes, Cathal Hughes, and Harry Hughes from Portwest

Leading Westport based clothing and personal protective equipment (PPE ) manufacturer Portwest Limited has acquired Melbourne company Prime Mover Workwear for a sum in excess of €7.5 million. This is a significant step in Portwest’s strategic geographical expansion across the globe and similar acquisitions in other areas are anticipated. Owned by brothers Cathal, Harry and Owen Hughes, Portwest confidently expect turnover to reach €350 million by 2020, consolidating its position as the fastest growing workwear company in the world.

Harry Hughes, managing director, Portwest Limited, said: “As part of its expansion plans, Portwest has strategically positioned warehousing across five major global locations - the USA, Dubai, UK, Poland, and Ireland. The company has made considerable investment into factories in Bangladesh and plans are in the final stages for a new manufacturing facility in Myanmar, where production will commence later this year."

Owen Hughes, acquisition and financial director at Portwest Limited, added: “We are delighted to announce this acquisition in the Australia/New Zealand market, this marks an exciting new phase of development for Portwest and we look forward to working with Brett Birkill in expanding our reach in this area." 

Prime Mover Workwear is the largest privately owned workwear company in Australia. It was founded in 2004 by Australian entrepreneur Brett Birkill who will remain with the company as CEO for Australia and New Zealand. Birkill said: “This deal is obviously very exciting for me, but I wasn’t about to sell to just anyone, I feel confident that the Portwest team will continue to uphold the quality and service I’ve spent 13 years building. They actually care.” 

Although based on opposite sides of the planet, there is no denying the two companies share similar underlying values and core principals. Both are family enterprises with high quality product design and manufacturing standards and offer outstanding service. Each has been successful in its respective market, competing effectively against large publicly listed competitors.

Portwest has been designing, developing, and manufacturing high quality workwear, high visibility garments, flame resistant clothing, footwear, and PPE for well over 100 years. It was founded in 1904 by Charles Hughes, son of a small farmer on the harsh Atlantic coast. He was determined to make better workwear and footwear when he started his first Portwest factory. His core principles of exceptional design quality, value, and service still apply in every aspect of the business. This philosophy has ensured Portwest’s strength and position in the workwear marketplace and has positioned it as an industry leader with reported European turnover of more than €150 million.



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