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Portwest: Family business wears it well on the global stage

This article was first published in the Business Post on Sunday, 12 September 2021

The specialist construction firm has continued to diversify through the creation of a design group and the use of cutting-edge 4D tech to support its projects.

Portwest has been named the inaugural winner of the Family Business Award in association with Family Business Network Ireland at Ireland’s Best Managed Companies awards programme 2021.

The Mayo-headquartered supplier of workwear and personal protective equipment (PPE) is also one of 85 companies across a range of sectors named as Best Managed requalifiers in this year’s awards programme.

Commenting on the prestigious accolades, Harry Hughes, chief executiveof Portwest, said the company was honoured by the recognition in both award categories.

“This provides Portwest with confirmation of our management structures and processes, and more importantly, the effort of all of our staff in developing and growing the company successfully, ”Hughes said.

“There has been a great pride in our achievement when we have received the awards over the past number of years.

”Headquartered in Westport, Portwest was founded in 1904 by Hughes’s grand-uncle, Charles.

In the years since, Portwest has grown to employ 4,500 people worldwide. The company has global sales offices in five locations outside Ireland in Britain, Poland, the US, Australia and the United Arab Emirates, and customer support staff in 130 countries.“Our mission statement reflects the founding principles that Charles would have believed in,” Harry Hughes said. “It is to be the world’s best supplier of protective wear, through customer focus, innovation, service and value– and  all delivered with passion and care.

”Commenting on the launch this year of the inaugural Family Business Award, John McGrane, the executive director of the Family Business Network, said: “We’re delighted to partner with Deloitte in recognising the management quality in Ireland’s family-owned businesses.“These firms employ more than the foreign-owned sector and the state  sector combined and they contribute massively in every constituency in the country.”

Tommy Breen, former chief executive at DCC plc and independent judge of the Family Business Award, said: “I am hugely impressed by the quality of all the firms who entered. The success of Ireland’s indigenous businesses is key to the country’s future job creation and growth.

”Breen noted the significant commitment of all the entrants to their local communities. “It’s a source of great pride to see so many successful Irish businesses committed to investing in their home region as well as being significant players in their sector internationally,”he said.

In a very tight competition with many great entrants, Portwest “stood out in how they demonstrated resilience and top-class management, not only this year, but throughout their years in business”, Breen said.

“This highly impressive Irish family business excels in numerous key areas,including strategy, governance, innovation and financial performance,”he said.

“Portwest is a shining example ofhow Ireland has many top-class family-owned businesses and we have to keep doing all we can to develop and support more indigenous entrepreneurs like the Hughes family.

”The inaugural Family Business Award had revealed a very high quality of management in many family-run businesses in Ireland, McGrane said. “These firms compete on a global stage and they prove that, as a country, we can hold our heads high.”

McGrane also said he appreciated Tommy Breen’s contribution as independent adjudicator. “Tommy Breen is one of Ireland’s most successful business leaders and is himself an inspiration to so many Irish management teams,” McGrane said.

Please note this article first featured in the Business Post Supplement on Sunday 12 September and was re-published kindly with their permission on our website.

Applications for next year’s programme will open in January 2022. For more information about the programme, email the team at 

This article first featured in the Business Post on Sunday, 12 September.

Applications for next year’s programme will open in January 2022. For more information about the programme, visit our website or email the team at