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Pretax profits up at O’Neill’s despite dip in sales of replica jerseys



Pretax profits at the O’Neill’s sports brand parent company in the Republic last year increased by 46 per cent to €1.9 million despite the impact of the shortened GAA All-Ireland series and increased energy and freight costs.

Accounts filed by Balbriggan Textiles Ltd show that it achieved the increase as the company’s gross profit increased by 12.5 per cent from €11.76 million to €13.25 million.

O’Neills finance director Paul Towell said sales of GAA replica jerseys were down again this year due to the condensed GAA All-Ireland series resulting in the firm further expanding into markets overseas.

He confirmed that the firm was going to open its first retail outlet in France next year with a new store at Pau in the south of France and in addition to the 10 outlets in Northern Ireland and four in the Republic.

Sales of replica GAA county jerseys were down 16 per cent last year and Mr Towell said that sales were down another 5 per cent already in 2023.

“The shortened season is disappointing but we are adapting,” he added.

Mr Towell said that Dublin, Limerick and Kerry GAA replica jerseys were the best sellers this year in Ireland but he said that the company’s best-selling replica jersey is Australian rugby league team the Penrith Panthers. He said that with All Ireland hurling and football finals taking place in late July, early August, “you sell very little replica jerseys until Christmas”.

He added: “We now have to chase markets overseas as we employ 1,060 here and you have to provide production for the workers in manufacturing. You can’t turn production on and off like a tap.”

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Mr Towell said that 2022 was a difficult year due to increased energy and freight costs.

“Our gas prices went up 100 per cent and transport costs for raw materials went up nearly 600 per cent. A 40ft container bringing raw materials from the Far East was costing €3,000 before the war in Ukraine and for most of 2022 it was costing between €18,000 and €20,000,” he said.

Balbriggan Textiles employs 135 and staff costs totalled €5.56 million.

At the end of December last, shareholder funds totalled €23.85 million. Cash funds were €5 million.

Separate accounts for the Northern Ireland-based O’Neill’s Irish International Sports Co Ltd show that pretax almost doubled from £993,026 to £1.76 million (€2 million) as gross profits climbed 30 per cent from £9.72 million to £12.3 million.

Numbers employed increased from 720 to 760 as staff costs rose from £14.55 million to £17.43 million. Shareholder funds were £15.43 million which included cash funds of £3.3 million.

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