Dubarry of Ireland is celebrating its 75th anniversary with an interesting program intended to raise €75,000 to finance breast cancer research. The company has created limited editions of 250 pairs of its original Galway country boots and Ultima sailing boots. A pair of the boots will be given with a dedicated scroll to anyone making a donation of €300, which will be entirely transferred to the National Breast Cancer Research Institute of Ireland, based in Galway.
Company officials said they were already one-third of the way toward the goal after a soft launch of the program,.It was going to pick up speed with the brand's presence at the Badminton Horse Trials in Gloucestershire, but they were cancelled a few days ago due to heavy rain. Dubarry hopes to get more exposure at the May 22-26 Chelsea Flower Show in London and at other events listed on its website.
The company was founded as a cooperative 75 years ago with a factory at Ballinasloe, in the county of Galway, after the local Chamber of Commerce investigated ways to bring employment to the town. To give it a continental flavor, the brand was named after Madame du Barry, the famous, beautiful French courtesan to King Louis XV.
The factory has since been closed, and its shoes are now made in Portugal. The company is now employing only 38 people in Galway. Meanwhile, Dubarry successfully diversified into clothing five years ago. It as carvout an interesting niche for all its outdoor-inspired products by avoiding the specialty retail circuit and targeting instead a segment of the fashion retail circuit that it likes to define as “premium performance outdoor lifestyle.”
Consumers tend to look for these kinds of items in certain fashion boutiques and in department stores such as Harrods in London, where Dubarry has just made it into a space on the fifth floor that it shares with the likes of Barbour, North Sails and Timberland.
Dubarry made an important new step in its development by announcing a few months ago the launch of its first range of waterproof/breathable outerwear with Gore-Tex and Windstopper for the autumn/winter 2012-13 season. While using generic membranes for its garments, the company has been a licensee of Gore-Tex for its Portuguese-made shoes for more than ten years. The extension of the contract is certain to give a new impulse to Dubarry's clothing range, which still represents only about 12.5 percent of its turnover.
The company's sales have been growing by between 15 and 20 percent annually, reaching a level of €25 million in 2010, but they would have not performed so well if the brand had chosen a more rugged outdoor orientation.
Some of the growth has also been spurred by the growing international reach of the brand. It is now represented in practically every European country, including Russia, as well as in Australia and elsewhere. Dubarry set up its own sales office in the U.K. five years ago and followed up two years later with an office in the U.S.
The Abu Dahbi Telefonica sailing team in the Volvo Ocean Race has been wearing Dubarry's deck shoes since last October. Partly because of its position on the rugged Atlantic coast of Ireland, Dubarry's image is associated mainly with a country lifestyle and with sailing, but its very technical shoes and garments can also be worn for gardening and other pursuits.