Belfast Telegraph

Belleek Pottery targeting growth as it marks 160th birthday in style

By Brett Campbell

The boss of Belleek Pottery has said it is "so far so good on Brexit" as the company anticipates a return to growth during its 160th anniversary year.

Managing director John Maguire told the Belfast Telegraph he was "delighted" with the company's performance, following a year of "extremely strong" sales.

"We expect to be back in growth this year as our performance has been extremely strong," he said.

"Our department stores performed well at Christmas and we are performing well online."

Despite losing multiple independent retail customers around the globe, Mr Maguire added: "I'm delighted to report we are in positive territory for this year."

It is an encouraging turnaround for the company, whose net sales dropped by 4.7% last year, down from £8.5m in 2015 to £8.1m in 2016.

The business managed to reduce its losses from £2.8m to just under £194,000 respectively and expects a return to profitability during the year.

Poor performance in North American markets was a contributing factor in the sales slump, but a combination of weak sterling - triggered by Brexit - and the launch of new product lines have had a positive impact on the Fermanagh-based manufacturing company.

"The stronger American dollar helps. Weaker sterling has been positive for Belleek and our export business in America. So far, so good on Brexit. It's also been very good for our visitor centre, from a tourism point of view," Mr Maguire said.

With more than 300 retailers in North America, the managing director is looking forward to showcasing Belleek's 160-year history in a one-hour show set to air on shopping channel QVC.

He is also excited about the roll-out of new product lines.

"We have a lot of new products for Christmas 2017," he said. "Our Belleek Living brand has been very successful and there will be more lines out very soon.

This year is a milestone year for the firm, which will be hosting events throughout the year with retailers and customers around the world.

As part of the celebrations the company has raided its vaults to recreate Belleek classic brands spanning from 1857 as a special, limited edition collection.

"The classic brand represents our 160-year history," Mr Maguire said. "We have released 16 items from our archive, each one representing a particular decade in our history."

Mr Maguire puts the company's success down to its ability to innovate and its dedicated workforce.

Belfast Telegraph