Belfast Telegraph

Clothing firm Magee blames Brexit for Ballymena closure

Magee chairman Lynn Temple
Magee chairman Lynn Temple

By Gordon Deegan

One of Ireland's best known clothing brands, Magee, has blamed Brexit after it shut down a distribution facility in Northern Ireland and transferred the operation to Donegal.

The Ballymena-based facility had operated for Magee since the 1920s but was closed last month ahead of the October 31 Brexit deadline.

Magee chairman Lynn Temple said the decision was taken "due to the definite possibility of a no-deal Brexit and the punitive duties on clothing in and out of Northern Ireland, which would make retail outlets to wholesale customers in Ireland impossible to service".

Mr Temple stated that the wholesale customers in Ireland would have been impossible to service "due to 12% World Trade Organisation (WTO) tariffs being added on to the cost price of each garment in the event of the UK/NI exiting without a deal".

A spokesman for Magee said the business was able to retain a number of staff who worked at the Ballymena facility.

They declined to state the number of jobs lost at Ballymena or the number of jobs created at the new distribution facility in Donegal. Mr Temple also blamed the uncertainties caused by Brexit for a 44% decrease in profits last year to €159,755 at Magee Clothing Ltd.

New accounts show that Magee Clothing Ltd recorded the profits of €159,755 last year after producing profits of €289,162 in 2017.

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Magee operates principally across the UK and Ireland and the Donegal-based firm today employs 130 people.

Mr Temple stated: "Profits were down in 2018 due to Brexit-related uncertainties, additional costs arising from this and the ongoing development costs of online sales and start-up costs in own retailing. Total revenue is approximately the same for 2018 as for 2017, although affected by exchange rates."

The profit last year resulted in Magee Clothing Ltd having accumulated profits of €6.8m (£5.8m) at the end of last year. Shareholder funds totalled €7.6m (£6.5m).

Mr Temple said 2019 has also been a difficult year with the ongoing uncertainties of Brexit affecting consumer confidence throughout the UK, Northern Ireland and the border counties.

Mr Temple added: "Magee continues to grow sales with selected wholesale customers throughout Ireland and Britain and in the flagship Magee store on South Ann Street, plus the existing concession within Arnotts department store and the original Magee shop in Donegal since 1866. The Magee e-commerce platform shows encouraging year on year growth, with sales growing in overseas markets such as the US."

Belfast Telegraph