Expanding retail ventures help boost sales for O'Neills

Tyrone's Ronan McNamee has a go on a sewing machine in the O'Neills factory in Strabane. Picture Margaret Mclaughlin
Ryan McAleer

TYRONE-based sportswear manufacturer O’Neills has said its online shop helped boost sales by eight per cent last year.

Founded in 1918 to manufacture gaelic footballs, the Strabane-based business is now the largest sportswear manufacturing company in Ireland, supplying jerseys and sports gear for the vast majority of GAA county and club teams.

While its annual turnover is not disclosed in the firm’s latest accounts, the company said the growing retail side to the business boosted sales by eight per cent in the 12 months to December 31 2018.

The sportswear firm said the increase over the 12 months was due to a continued increase in internet sales and the opening of new stores in Derry and Craigavon during 2018.

Despite the rise in revenues, operating costs were also up last year, leaving the Tyrone-based company’s operating profit at £1.1 million, on par with its 2017 performance.

The new company report revealed that O’Neills’ workforce grew from 559 in 2017 to 632 last year, with 73 additional staff recruited over the year.

It increased the overall company payroll costs from £11.8m to £13.3m.

Shareholder funds increased nine per cent to £10.7m in 2018.

O’Neills Irish International Sports Company Ltd is ultimately controlled by shareholders Paul Towell and Tony Towell.

The latest report from the directors once again identified Brexit and the associated uncertainty as “a considerable risk to further development”.

The directors stated: “The company aims to remain competitive in the market by reviewing component costs, pricing and profit profile.”

In May 2019, O’Neills acquired Smyth & Gibson, the last remaining shirt-making factory in Derry. The Tyrone firm took on 20 workers who were facing redundancy, launching a new range of Derry Girl themed jerseys, which are now being manufactured in the Waterside factory.

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