Barbour raises prices of its waxed jackets but says customers still want ‘quality investments’
Barbour, the maker of wax jackets worn by the late Queen, has been forced to raise prices as its boss warned the company faced “extraordinary” challenges.
Steve Buck, managing director at the 129-year-old clothing brand, said the business was having to contend with higher inflation, the cost of living crisis and a slowdown in demand.
The company said it was facing a combination of price increases across materials, staffing, shipping, energy as well as higher duty costs because of Brexit.
Founded in 1894 by John Barbour, the company is known for its distinctive wax and quilted jackets. It holds three Royal Warrants and sells over 2 million jackets globally a year.
Its clothes experienced a revival in the 1980s and became increasingly popular with socialites and celebrities in Britain.
Over past decades it has amassed a legion of dedicated customers including the supermodel Kate Moss, Diana, Princess of Wales, and more recently, Rishi Sunak. According to the company’s chairman, Dame Margaret Barbour, the late Queen Elizabeth II wore the same Barbour jacket for 25 years, asking for its coating to be "re-waxed" around the time of her Diamond Jubilee in 2012.
Mr Buck said: “The fiscal year 2022/23 will see some extraordinary challenges for our business with higher inflation, the cost of living crisis and market contractions.
“The ongoing impact of the pandemic, Brexit and the current global economic uncertainty has resulted in many challenges to margins across all channels and markets including rising costs and pricing pressures.
“We've had to increase some of our prices, but being very mindful of what many of our customers are experiencing, we have only passed on half of the cost increase in price.”
The company said sales grew by 32pc to £286.6m in the year to April 2022, as it began to recover from the effects of severe lockdowns.
“We have felt the challenge of the cost of living crisis most in the UK and less so across Europe and Asia,” said Mr Buck.
“Customers are being careful with their money but are continuing to buy good quality investment pieces. Because of this, our sales, particularly in wax jackets have continued to remain buoyant.”
The company is still owned by the Barbour family and is based in South Shields. It runs a charitable foundation which has donated over £27m to charitable causes and research to date.
Its waxed jackets generally cost between £200 and £300. Its bestsellers - the men’s Ashby jacket and women’s Beadnell - currently both cost £229 on Barbour’s website.