Belfast Telegraph

O'Neills scores £1m Northern Ireland profit but fears Brexit impact

By Gordon Deegan

The directors of the firm behind GAA sporting brand O'Neills have warned that Brexit and the uncertainty it brings are considerable risks to the company's further development.

O'Neills, which manufactures GAA kit and balls, has major operations in Northern Ireland and the Republic - and new accounts filed for the businesses show that it enjoyed combined profits of £1.5m last year.

Revenues and profits last year increased at both companies as they benefited from the boost in retail as confidence returned.

O'Neills Irish International Sports Ltd is the group's main Northern Ireland entity and it recorded a 53% increase in pre-tax profit to £946,455 last year.

This followed the firm's revenues increasing by 17% from £26.8m to £31.48m last year.

Numbers employed by the Strabane-based company last year increased by 39, going from 387 to 426, and the directors stated that "operating profit increased during the year due to a general increase in retail sales attributed to improved consumer spending as the confidence returns to the UK and worldwide economies".

The directors said that the company built a new warehouse at its Strabane factory base and is in the process of expanding further in 2016.

However, the directors added: "Although the growth in the UK and worldwide economies strengthened in 2015, the impending exit of the UK from the EU and the associated uncertainty is a considerable risk to further development."

They stated that: "The company aims to remain competitive in the market by reviewing component costs, pricing and profit profile."

The directors repeated their concern in their accounts for their Republic of Ireland entity, Balbriggan Textiles Ltd, where they said that the group is well positioned to manage the Brexit risk.

Numbers employed by O'Neills' Balbriggan Textiles Ltd at the end of last December totalled 169, while the firm's pre-tax profits increased by 33% from €511,219 (£439, 535) to €680,284 (£585,000)

O'Neills was established in 1918 in Dublin's Capel Street by Charles O'Neill and its jerseys are worn every year by top GAA stars, including Tyrone's Sean Cavanagh, Donegal's Michael Murphy and Tipperary's Seamus Callanan.

O'Neills has manufacturing plants in Dublin and Strabane.

Gaelic games are now played in 30 countries around the world and this has contributed to O'Neills increasing its overseas business.

Some of the clubs that wear O'Neills gear include the Orange-eire in Kuala Lumpur, the Flinders O'Neills in Australia, the Calgary Chieftains and the Fort McMurray Shamrocks in the north of Canada.

At the end of last December, O'Neills Irish International Sports Company had accumulated profits of £7.79m.

The firm's cash pile increased more than three-fold during the year from £233,496 to £788,806.

Belfast Telegraph