Business Irish

Monday 24 April 2017

Portwest building factory in Myanmar

Harry Hughes, one of the directors at Co Mayo firm Portwest
Harry Hughes, one of the directors at Co Mayo firm Portwest

Sean Duffy

Irish protective clothing company Portwest has completed the takeover of Australian Prime Mover Workwear in a deal worth €7.5m.

Mayo-based Portwest also confirmed it is to open a new factory in Myanmar this year that will cost in the region of €10m and employ 1,200 people.

Portwest recently made headlines when the Hughes family behind the brand bought the historic Westport House in Mayo for around €10m. Plans are underway to develop the 450-acre site.

The company currently employs 1,700 people at a manufacturing site in Bangladesh.

Portwest currently has warehousing facilities in the US, Dubai, the UK, Poland and Ireland. The company's protective clothing is widely used in mining, building and security industries.

Prime Mover is the largest privately owned workwear company in Australia. It was founded in 2004 by Brett Birkill who will remain with the company as ceo for Australia and New Zealand.

"This marks an exciting new phase of development for Portwest and we look forward to working with Brett in expanding our reach in this area," said Owen Hughes, acquisition and financial director at Portwest.

The deal is the latest in a slew of investments being undertaken by the company which is led by brothers Cathal, Harry and Owen Hughes of Westport.

"We were looking at another investment in Australia when Prime Mover came to our attention," said Owen Hughes. "Having talked with them it became clear that their business model is very similar to our own. We are going to leave the current management structure in place and we believe we can add a lot of value to the business."

Birkill said Portwest came along at just the right time. "I feel confident that the Portwest team will continue to uphold the quality and service I've spent 13 years building. They actually care," he said.

Meanwhile, around 200 jobs are expected to be created at Westport House, when the development is completed.

Portwest says that it expects turnover at the company to hit €350m by 2020. "We have a strong affinity to the area in that we are locals. That said, we are businesspeople and we invested in Westport House because we believe in its potential to generate returns," said Mr Hughes.

He said the upcoming expansion in Myanmar would harness the group's growth potential in the coming years.

Irish Independent

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