Belfast Telegraph

Uniform maker marks 75th year with boost in export trade

By Clare Weir

A Londonderry firm is enjoying continued growth in export markets as it celebrates 75 years in business.

A third-generation family business which has survived the almost total collapse of the textile industry in the North West, Hunter Apparel was established in 1936 and employs 40 people.

The firm makes uniforms used by the emergency services, airlines, hospital staff and the hospitality sector.

Using new technology, the company also makes 'smart' clothing that can detect and repel superbugs.

Hunter Apparel is the main supplier of uniforms to the UK Fire and Rescue service as well as the Northern Ireland and Republic's ambulance services.

Earlier this year Hunter, based in Springtown Industrial Estate, landed a €2m (£1.7m) contract to supply Irish postmen and women with new uniforms, providing waterproof jackets, shorts and trousers to 6000 An Post staff.

Simon Hunter of Hunter Apparel said the firm constantly evaluated its operations in order to manage market challenges, anticipate customer trends and meet demand.

"We have also recently secured a number of prestigious export contracts," he said.

Invest NI support has helped the firm in a number of areas, including assistance with developing export capability.

Visiting the company's premises in Springtown Industrial Estate, Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said Hunter had effectively managed its way through the challenges faced by the textiles industry over the past 10 to 15 years.

"With international customers now based across Europe, the Middle East and Asia, this is a truly global company," she said. "I hope many other firms are encouraged to follow Hunter's example"