Ireland’s Workwear Sector’s unprecedented growth

Although Ireland is tentatively trying to return to some normality and start ‘living with Covid’, its effects on the workwear and PPE industry are far from behind us. The industry, like many others, was turned on its head last year when the pandemic hit. Retailers experienced an unprecedented boom as PPE sales went through the roof and homeowners spent their holiday funds on home improvements rather than flights abroad.

From mid 2020, significant sales increases were reported by some hardware stores with the trend continuing well into 2021.

The pace was relentless and suppliers had to fight hard to keep up with demand. Many of these suppliers have been forced to announce price increases due to the well documented shortage of raw materials. Shipping costs have also soared due to the slower turnaround of containers at ports and a backlog of goods now leaving the Far East from where shipping had stalled during the pandemic.

Not to mention the small matter of Brexit. Initial confusion at the borders over import requirements accentuated already strained shipping resources and caused chaos for couriers delivering goods of every nature. There have been some high-profile casualties within the industry as Dickies, a long-established workwear brand, exiting the European market and some suppliers forced to introduce import tariffs on goods imported from the UK.

Despite all the turbulence, the forecast for the Irish market is still positive. The ESRI expect the Irish economy to grow by 5.2% in 2022.

Finally, a long overdue intervention by the HSA on fake and non-compliant PPE products that entered the market during Covid-19 will see reputable suppliers rewarded. The HSA has started conducting visits to retailers to validate product certificates in a bid to eliminate non-compliant PPE from being sold in Ireland.

Thanks to Anne McNicholas from Portwest for her assistance in compiling information for this introduction.

High grade dust mask sets

John Stafford & Sons are happy to announce the return of their popular High Grade Dust Masks and Safety Sets.

Launched in the summer of 2019 these products became a fast selling and highly sought-after product. The range consists of:

  • 3pc FFP2 with Valve which offers more protection than the FFP1. It offers protection from deleterious substances in the air such as lead dust, as well as aerosols, smoke, it is therefore a popular mask in mining and metal industries and agriculture.
  • 2pc FFP3 with Valve offers the highest protection from breathing in hazardous substances in the environment.
  • The mask can protect from a variety of toxins, such as asbestos, bacteria and viruses.
  • The 3pc Safety Set offers a 3in1 solution to your safety needs. This set includes a comfortable Ear Defender, Safety Goggles & a FFP1 Mask for the all-round protection.

For more information on all our products visit or contact the office on 053 936 7246.

Portwest – innovation takes centre stage for future plans!

Portwest are looking forward to the future with the announcement of an upcoming rebrand and a new catalogue launch this Winter. Although the company is now 117 years old, no one could accuse them of letting things go stale. They have gone from strength to strength, growing from a small, independent draper into one of the world’s fastest growing workwear companies.

The secret to that growth has always been constant innovation, pushing forward to find the next exciting product and bringing new design to the market. This is perfectly encapsulated in their upcoming 2021 workwear catalogue release. The new catalogue features over 200 new styles, as well as countless favourites from the current 1,500 strong product range.

Autumn will also see Portwest launch a new look brand with the focus changing solely from workwear to better represent their head to toe PPE offering. Portwest’s range includes head protection, eye protection, flame retardant protection, anti-static ranges, chefswear and so much more and the new brand will represent all of these sectors.

The rebrand comes hot on the heels of their Base Footwear launch, after Portwest acquired the premium Italian safety footwear brand back in 2020. This added over 120 new styles of premium safety footwear to the Portwest range to round off their already impressive offering.

Portwest work closely with retail partners across the country to deliver exceptional product and service and they are looking forward to growing this even further through the launch of their new brand.

For any retailers that would like to enquire about becoming a Portwest partner, they can contact or phone 098 51777, where their Westport based sales team are always happy to help.

Think Outside the Toolbox – Hultafors Group Ireland (Snickers Workwear) adds CLC Work Gear to its portfolio.

CLC Custom Leather Craft is an American brand specialising in modern innovative tool carriers and backpacks designed for today’s professional technicians and tradespeople. Functional tool organisation and comfortable mobility is key.

Hultafors Group Ireland (Snickers Workwear) is pleased to announce the addition of American brand CLC Work Gear, being launched in September 2021 on the Irish market. CLC has over 35 years’ experience creating rugged, innovative work gear for contractors, tradespeople, and other professionals. The company is known both for heavy duty products made with great attention to detail, as well as anticipating the needs of professionals with innovative solutions, such as tool backpacks with built-in lamps and chargers for multiple devices.

“We’re incredibly excited to bring CLC Work Gear into the Hultafors Group Ireland (Snickers Workwear) family” says David Macken, MD, Hultafors Group Ireland. “CLC brings something unique and new to Ireland. Over many years, they’ve proven to have a talent for creating top-quality tool backpacks, tool bags and other gear for professionals, using great materials and designs. CLC have also repeatedly anticipated needs and provided solutions ahead of the curve ex. packs with built in organizing trays, lamps, and chargers. We believe Irish tradespeople are going to find a lot to like about CLC and see it as a great compliment to our current brands in the workwear, safety footwear and head protection segments”

Read more about this launch in the latest issue of The Hardware Journal.

For further information please contact your Hultafors Group Ireland (Snickers Workwear) area sales manager.

Hultafors Group (Snickers Workwear) Ireland – Unit B5 Calmount Business Park Ballymount Dublin 12 – 01-4098400

Workwear sales expand

According to testing carried out by Mascot Workwear, the sales difference between having a well laid out stand with the correctly chosen garments and just having garments available can be 80% or better in the short term and 50% in the long term.

Point of sale well thought out promotions that are custom made to the needs of the retailer and not just generic are more important to drive sell through and options for online selling like drop shipping and social media support will add incremental sales. Drop shipping can allow you to access the “long tail” as the e-Commerce experts call it; allowing customers to shop everything that the supplier makes but that you do not necessarily stock.

“Workwear is not fast fashion. It should probably be known as the opposite to it, as it is designed to last. Durability has been a hall mark of the sector and regardless of the brand, all manufacturers aim for this. There is no need to overstate its environmental credentials, customers expect their workwear to last.

But workwear does follow trends. Right now, garments that have full or part stretch are essential for high sales turn over. Water repellence and increased fabric strength are real benefits of which savvy customers are already aware. The whole sector has expanded during the pandemic as new customers shopped in stores that ordinarily they may not have done before.

Up to date merchandising on stands and POS have helped tell a relevant story and made the sector shoppable. Suppliers have worked hard to do this. Adding more accessories than you might have done in the past is always a good decision and marrying footwear at medium and premium price points can be done at a low SKU count and good cash and margin contribution.” Says Ed Sweeney, Country Manager – Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

“The future is fantastic for the workwear business” says Ed and if you would like to know more, please contact him at

Functional, safe and stylish workwear by Blåkläder

Blåkläder Workwear just loves grimy workshops, muddy building sites, weld spatter and metalwork sparks. And it has your customers covered whatever the weather. That’s because their garments are designed to protect your customer for work in the toughest environments.

Blåkläder has been manufacturing and selling workwear since 1959, and today they are one of Europe’s largest manufacturers of professional work clothing. Producing around 4.5 million garments each year alone, many of the leading construction companies across Europe choose Blåkläder to keep them and their employees safe.

Their collection includes craftsman, painters, gardeners, high visibility and more, and whilst you will not find ties or cuff links in their collection, you will find garments that meet professionals’ need for durability and function. Choose workwear that lasts. Choose Blåkläder.

Their Lifetime Seam Guarantee sets them apart

Their clothing is made to take a good beating, thanks to over 60 years of hard work. That’s why they’re the only clothing manufacturer in the world to offer a lifetime guarantee on the seams of all their clothing – that’s something that really sets them apart from the competition.

Blåkläder is a growing company and they plan to continue on that path. Their vision is to distribute high-quality functional workwear across the world. To do that, they need great manufacturing processes, and, perhaps most importantly, full control over their production. They have full oversight at their factories, and that’s a conscious choice. It is, quite simply, the best way of ensuring quality in the long run. Not only in their end products, but also in areas such as working conditions, environmental concern, and choice of suppliers.

Sustainability is the right choice… SW® EcoTekTM is the smart choice

With sustainability being a hot topic today, consumers are now demanding that corporations make a concerted effort to eliminate the use of, or at least reduce the impact single use plastics have on the environment. From paper straws at the fast food restaurant to compostable coffee cups at multinational chains, consumers are driving major change, albeit one small step or sip at a time.

PPE, while an essential tool in the workplace and home, is also a culprit, but that too is changing. Every year, close to 7 billion disposable gloves are used across the UK & Ireland by companies and households and some of these will form part of the 49% of the marine waste that single use plastics accounts for. A normal nitrile glove will take in excess of 100 years before it breaks down, so unless it is disposed of by incineration, another potential source of pollution, the glove you use to protect your hands at work, wash the car or power hose the patio will not only outlive you, but also your children and potentially your children’s children.

Thanks to innovative new technology, ethical manufacturers are starting to produce single use gloves that have accelerated rates of biodegradation, meaning that gloves disposed of in landfill will biodegrade at a rate that can be measured in months & years rather than centuries.

But not all gloves claiming to be biodegradable are equal. Firstly, any claims of 100% biodegradability are false. Regardless of the rate of degradation or how long it lies in landfill, there will always be some traces of the glove remaining.

Secondly, it’s important to check for the standard the gloves meet. ASTM D5526-12 & ASTM D5511-11 are two commonly used standards for measuring aerobic and anaerobic biodegradation. Put simply, D5526-12 measures biodegradation of materials in real world conditions, while D5511-11 measures only in a “best case” laboratory environment. Both measure degradation over a specific time and neither test can be used to predict future levels of biodegradation.

SW® gloves with EcoTek™ biodegradable technology are certified to ASTM D5526-12 international standards to break down, not just in laboratory conditions, but in real world environments. SW EcoTek® gloves biodegrade 92.6% in only 2.5 years without any glove performance loss and what remains is organic matter.

Allied to their unique performance, comfort and hand health technologies, it makes single use gloves from SW® an essential option for any EHQS officer responsible for selecting gloves in an industrial workplace.

So next time you want to wash your car, try using less water, fewer chemicals and protect your hands with gloves that won’t still be sitting in a landfill when your eldest grandchild goes to buy their first car. Even the smallest changes can make a huge difference.

For more information on gloves containing these innovative environmentally friendly technologies such as Megaman® and PowerForm® with EcoTek™ from SW®, please contact your local Keypoint representative. SW® gloves with EcoTek®. The Smart Choice!

ATG® gloves now touchscreen compatible another reason for you not to take them off!

In a constantly changing work environment that sees us interacting with electronic devices on a daily basis, Keypoint are delighted to introduce a range of ATG® gloves that are now touchscreen compatible that work with both resistive and capacitive screens.

Aside from being extremely practical, the touchscreen technology eliminates the need for your customer to remove their gloves when interacting with their digital device.

Did you know that 19% of all workplace injuries involve the hand or arm? Reports have shown that in 70% of those cases, the injured party was not wearing safety gloves. This latest touchscreen enhancement is an important safety feature, thereby improving compliance and further reducing the risk of a hand injury and the costs associated with it.

All ATG® gloves are dermatologically accredited by the Skin Health Alliance and are also washed prior to packaging which guarantee that ATG® gloves are “fresh out of the pack” as certified by Oeko-Tex®. ATG® mechanical work gloves are also certified to be washed for additional cleanliness and cost efficiency.

In addition to delivering class-leading comfort, performance and cleanliness, this range of ATG® Gloves with Touchscreen Technology gives you yet another reason to choose Keypoint as your preferred safety glove supplier.

Touchscreen technology is available on the following styles – MaxiFlex® Ultimate™, MaxiFlex® Endurance™, MaxiFlex®Cut™ & MaxiCut® Ultra™ so look out for the Touchscreen icon on your favourite ATG® gloves”.

Axus Decor S-Tex – a fusion of fashion and function

The S-Tex range of workwear from Axus Decor includes the S-Tex Jacket, Painter’s Trousers, and Painter’s Shorts. Made from lightweight, comfortable, and hardwearing materials, they offer both comfort and functionality.

The S-Tex Jacket is a water-repellent, windproof jacket with a zip-off, adjustable hood, so it is excellent for working in all weather conditions. Both its outer shell and inner mesh lining are breathable for maximum comfort, even during strenuous tasks. The elasticated, adjustable waist and velcro-adjustable cuffs ensure the perfect fit.

It has several utility pockets, including two convenient arm pen pockets, and a detachable ID lanyard that you can also use for business cards. It’s ideal for site visits where presentation makes all the difference. Colour choices are Bright White, Genesis Grey and Hi-Vis Yellow, each featuring contrast colours for a sleek, modern look.

The S-Tex Painter’s Trousers and Shorts are highly functional. They are triple stitched in areas commonly prone to ripping, whilst cuffs and knee pad pockets (trousers only) are reinforced for ultimate durability.

Adjustable hammer/scraper loops, knife holsters, a reinforced scissor pocket, a zipped safety pocket and buttoned screw pockets are just some of the 21 storage options.

Safety plays an important role in the overall design of the range, with reflectors being prominent in all three garments. All S-Tex apparel has been made for the style-conscious pro.

Geometric design, contemporary colours, and meticulous stitching are all aspects of desirable fashion and all are incorporated without compromising function, comfort or durability.

Launching in 2021, Axus Decor will reveal two additional S-Tex lines, further establishing themselves as a leading workwear supplier. Keep a lookout!

The full Axus Decor range of painting and decorating accessories can be viewed at or contact Anthony White 087 3818356 or