Waxed jacket firm aims for celeb clients

ITS garments have long been associated with farmers, fishermen and the outdoor look.

But bosses at South Tyneside firm Barbour are now aiming their new range at a more discerning customer – A-list celebs.

Although already a favourite with the most A-list celebrity of all – the Queen – Barbour chiefs will be targeting their new-look range of waxed silk jackets at stars such as Lily Allen, Rufus Wainwright, actors Catherine Zeta-Jones and Sienna Miller and hip-indie band lead singer Alex Turner, who hit No 1 with I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor.

The company, which employs more than 300 people at its manufacturing base at Simonside, South Shields, has denied the trendy new range, out in spring, is a result of falling sales, following the closure last week of its factory at Galashiels in the Scottish borders, with the loss of 46 jobs.

A Barbour spokesman said: "The factory at Galashiels produced our classic knitwear, and the reason we had to close was because of a lack of demand for those products.

"But our sales are up by six per cent and turnover has increased to 65m.

"We are planning to extend our core range into more contemporary waxed silk jackets, with the aim of attracting a newer clientele."

Other hip celebrities mentioned in Barbour's pre-launch fashion promotion include Peaches Geldof. The trendy new jackets will retail at between 249 and 299.

Barbour was launched in South Shields in 1894, catering to the area's sailors, fishermen and shipyard workers.

The company maintains the closure of the Galashiels factory will "not impact" on their South Shields base.

Last November, machinists at the South Shields factory joined forces with workers at Galashiels in planning a 24-strike in support of a pay claim.

But the threat of industrial action was lifted after lowest-paid workers at both factories accepted a 4.1 pay offer, which amounted to about an extra 8 a week.