Portwest wins Family Business Award at Deloitte Best Managed Companies Awards 2021

The Family Business Network would like to extend our congratulations to Portwest on winning the inaugural Family Business Award at the Deloitte Best Managed Companies Awards 2021.

Portwest have been valued members of our Family Business Network since 2018.  Founded in 1904, Charles Hughes was intent on creating the best workwear and footwear available. Over 100 years later, Portwest is now managed by the 3rd generation of the Hughes family and is the fastest growing workwear company in the world. The company specialises in fire-resistant and high-visibility workwear, in addition to PPE. It employs more than 4,500 people globally and has sales in over 130 countries.

Brothers Harry, Owen and Cathal meet on a regular basis, which aids quick and comprehensive decision making. Owen believes that, as a family business, Portwest “have a dynamism that some large public companies don’t have”.

Furthermore, in-character with other family businesses, Portwest take a long-term view of investments. In relation to their U.S. expansion, Cathal explains “we weren’t just thinking about the next 5 years, we were thinking about the next 50”. Five members of the fourth generation are already working for the company and it seems this trend will continue.

The century-old family business has little intention of slowing down; opening a new manufacturing facility in Ethiopia in 2020 and aims of €1 billion in turnover by 2025.

Portwest has also acquired two companies in Australia and a footwear manufacturer in Spain in recent years, which have a combined turnover of €70 million. Although the company has a long-term goal to expand globally, they are also extending their headquarters by 50% in the coming year, in order to cater for their ever-increasing local workforce.

Another characteristic of family businesses in Ireland is their connection to local and regional communities.

Portwest is no different. In 2017 the Hughes family acquired Westport House as a way of giving back to the community. While the purchase did not “really make economic sense” according to CEO Harry Hughes, Westport House is “hugely important to the area and its tourism trade”

Deloitte launched the Irish version of the Best Managed Companies programme in 2008. Privately owned Irish and Northern Irish companies are awarded for their superior business performance. They are assessed through a rigorous and independent process which evaluates the calibre of their management abilities and practices. Deloitte prides itself on having the only awards scheme on the island of Ireland that considers a business’ performance from every perspective.