Fellowship Type, Sector based Fellowships, Industry Sector, Manufacturing | June 2017

Lord Young and Baroness Prosser Explore British Heritage Brand Barbour

Lord Young of Norwood Green and Baroness Prosser visited Barbour on Wednesday 21 June 2017 as part of their Industry and Parliament Trust (IPT) Fellowship programmes.

Barbour was established in South Shields in 1894 and is a 5th generation family owned business. Under the leadership of Chairman Dame Margaret Barbour, Barbour has grown into a lifestyle brand sold in over 40 countries worldwide, offering a wardrobe of stylish functional clothing for men, women and children inspired by the unique values of the British countryside.  The iconic waxed jackets continue to be made by hand in Barbour's factory in South Shields in the North East of England and each year approximately 25,000 waxed jackets are sent back to Barbour to be repaired, rewaxed or altered.

A highlight of the visit for Lord Young and Baroness Prosser was spending time with Dame Margaret Barbour. They talked to Dame Margaret about the company’s evolution from a traditional British outdoor clothing company to a global fashion brand as well as the importance of heritage and family values to the business.

During the visit, Lord Young and Baroness Prosser also met Brenda Readman-Bell, Group Finance & IT Director and Ian Sime who spoke to them about the challenges of maintaining manufacturing in the UK and the important contribution it makes to sustaining the brand. Director of Supply Chain. Design manager Gary Janes and Pattern Services manager, Tom Sweeney also explained about the way in which Barbour innovates and develops its designs, at the same time as maintaining its traditional styles.

The visit was rounded off by a visit to the factory where Lord Young and Baroness Prosser saw the production line and met some of the staff who are highly skilled in making Barbour jackets. They also visited the Customer Service Team who specialise in repairing and rewaxing the traditional Barbour waxed jackets.

The visit helped to highlight the importance of innovation and evolution for British heritage brands in order to make sure that they are able to adapt and compete at a global level.

Commenting on the visit Lord Young said:

"I have thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Barbour today, and would like to thank Dame Margaret Barbour and Sue Newton as well as all of the staff who hosted us and made this visit possible. As well as hearing about the evolution of Barbour, it was fantastic to find out more about their commitment and dedication to hiring local and developing local talent as well as their passion for promoting women within the workplace. It is inspiring to see a business which evolves and adapts to new technologies and innovations whilst still retaining its history and heritage."

Baroness Prosser added:

“It was fantastic to visit Barbour today. It is such an iconic British brand and it was great to meet some of the staff who strives to make sure that the brand never loses its identity as a family owned business. The level of care and attention to detail which goes into making or repairing a Barbour jacket is incredible and it is a tribute to Dame Margaret and all of the staff at Barbour that the brand has grown to become a global icon of quality and heritage.”

Dame Margaret Barbour, Chairman, J Barbour & Sons Ltd added:

“It was a pleasure to host Lord Young and Baroness Prosser at Barbour today. They obviously have a passion for manufacturing and employment, and this was evident during the visit. It was a pleasure to show them round the factory and I hope they have found the visit helpful in their parliamentary roles.”

Notes to Editors

  • J Barbour & Sons Ltd was founded in 1894 and has always been based in South Shields in the North East of England.  Barbour is a 5th generation, family owned business.
  • Barbour is a leading lifestyle brand manufacturing and retailing waxed jackets, waterproof breathable jackets, wools, quilts, shirts, knitwear, trousers, accessories and footwear in over 40 countries worldwide.
  • Barbour’s customer service is unique – waxed jackets can be returned at any time for rewaxing, repairs or alteration.


*IPT Fellowships are educational, non-lobbying attachments for parliamentarians, providing a unique perspective of the challenges and issues facing UK industry. Fellowships can take place in a range of organisations, from FTSE 100 companies to SMEs and voluntary organisations.