O'Neills onto a winner with expat jersey sales
THE emigrant dollar helped to prevent Irish sportswear firm O'Neills going into the red last year.
Director Paul Towell said bumper sales of GAA tops to emigrant players competing for the likes of the Christchurch McKennas and the Kuwait Harps also helped O'Neill's export business increase 25pc with the Australian, the US and the UK markets the best performers. Mr Towell confirmed that exports now make up a fifth of O'Neill's annual revenues as new figures showed that the Dublin-based group recorded a 17pc drop in pre-tax profits last year to €285,432.
O'Neill's owner, Balbriggan Textiles, recorded the drop in profits after the group's gross profit declined 7.5pc to €8m last year.
O'Neills' Northern Ireland subsidiary, O'Neills Irish International Sports Company, enjoyed a more successful year with pre-tax profits marginally increasing from €403,810 to €425,241.
Long associated with the GAA since it was established on Dublin's Capel Street in 1918, the group today operates two manufacturing plants in Strabane, Co Tyrone, and Walkinstown Avenue, in Dublin.
Mr Towell said the continuing rise in exports and a slight pick up in the home market this year has resulted in O'Neill's increasing the number it employs for the first time in years, going from 520 to 530.
He confirmed O'Neill's now has additional staff targeting the export markets in Australia and the US as a result of the large numbers of Irish emigrating to those countries.