Portwest, which employs 200 people at its headquarters at Thurnscoe, near Barnsley, supplies more than 120 countries and has a turnover of around £200m.
Now the company, which has been backed by Enterprising Barnsley, is looking to build a second giant warehouse on the site and expand into more countries.
Portwest supplies workwear ranging from chefs’ aprons and welders’ gloves to high-visibility jackets and over-trousers. Most of the garments are manufactured in the Far East, with special orders made at the Thurnscoe site, which also acts as the distribution centre for most of Europe.
The company, which was started in Ireland in 1904 by Charles Hughes, the grand-uncle of the current owners, now has a catalogue which is translated into 26 languages. It also has warehouses in Ireland, Poland, Dubai and New Zealand, and has recently moved into Australia and Panama.
Global sales director Richard Jones said: “The transformation since the move in to South Yorkshire 30 years ago has been enormous. And we are confident the next 30 years will be amazing too. But we couldn’t have done it without the fantastic staff here in Barnsley.”
Staff have been invited to a celebration event on March 28 at Tankersley Manor Hotel. Out of the 200 staff, 66 will be receiving awards for service, ranging from five to 30 years. Among them will be Joanne Oldfield, who was the first employee taken on when the company opened a warehouse in Barnsley in 1988.
Back then the warehouse was at Goldthorpe. In 2006 Portwest moved to a purpose-built 15,000 square-metre facility at Fields End Business Park in Thurnscoe. The company is now considering building on spare land at the site, with a view to a second purpose-built warehouse and dozens more jobs.
Portwest has been supported by Enterprising Barnsley, the economic development arm of Barnsley Council, since just before the move to Thurnscoe with advice in everything from strategic planning, sales processes, quality systems, access to finance and recruitment.
Richard said: “Enterprising Barnsley have been a great resource for us over the years. They are there in the background to turn to when we need them and are always the first people we go to for advice.”
Enterprising Barnsley aims to help businesses across the borough develop and expand; generating economic growth and creating jobs.
Judy Sidebottom, of Enterprising Barnsley, said: “Portwest really are one of the success stories of Barnsley. They have grown from a few staff at Goldthorpe to being a major employer in the borough.
“The support we have been able to offer the company just shows how the public sector really can help the private sector to create new jobs and boost the local economy.”
For more information about Enterprising Barnsley go to: www.enterprisingbarnsley.co.uk