275-year old Liverpool firm sees revenue top £26m

Founded in 1748, lubricant manufacturer and exporter RS Clare is the oldest surviving business in Liverpool and is reporting revenue up 25% to £26.6m. Tony McDonough reports

David Meadows
David Meadows, managing director of RS Clare in Liverpool


Specialist lubricant manufacturer and exporter RS Clare is reporting a significant rise in both revenue and profit.

Based in Stanhope Street in the Baltic Triangle, RS Clare is Liverpool’s oldest surviving business. It was founded by Richard Clare in 1748 at the start of the Industrial Revolution as a chemist, druggist and dry-salter, making it 275 years old this year.

In the last few days the company has filed its annual accounts on Companies House for the year to December 31, 2022. They show turnover up 25% to £26.6m and pre-tax profit up almost 30% to £5.76m.

RS Clare exports its lubricants all over the world with its products used in sectors including oil and gas, rail, maritime, industrial and thermoplastics. Among places its lubricants can be found are the London Underground tube network.

Most of its revenue, £24.5m, comes from the lubricants sector but it also supplies surface coating for road markings. Its thermoplastic road markings have been used since the 1930s and in 2022 brought in £2.14m in revenue.

In the UK during the year its sales totalled £7.2m. Its single biggest source of revenue was Europe where sales hit £8.7m. In Asia RS Clare generated £7.2m and £3.5m in other global markets. It employed 79 people in 2022.

Lubricants were developed as a result of the first mineral oil being imported into the Mersey River in 1889. This was the year that the Meadows and Wilson families bought the company from the remaining members of the Clare family.

In January 2022 David Meadows stepped up from his role as director of marketing and communications to became the company’s new chief executive. He replaced Paul Vann who spent six years in the job.

Mr Meadows is the sixth generation of Meadows to be appointed to the job. He made a commitment to make the business more sustainable and pledged to work towards a target of net zero carbon emissions.

In January this year the firm acquired Swiss based railway lubrication business, Igralub Holding. The deal included subsidiaries in Switzerland, Germany and Austria, and its share of a joint venture in North America.

In the annual accounts, David Meadows said: “During 2022, the company experienced strong growth in revenue and profitability. Sales activities and revenues were up in all our key strategic divisions.

“To meet evolving customer demands we prioritised innovation and product development. We developed and introduced several new products which were well received in the market and contributed significantly to our revenue growth.


London Underground, tube, train
RS Clare’s lubricants are used on the London Underground tube network


“In 2022, our investment into new capital projects in our Liverpool facility continued, increasing production capacity and efficiency. Looking ahead, we remain committed to maintaining our growth momentum.

“We see strong demand for our products in our key markets and our strategic priorities for the coming year include further market expansion, product diversification and significant investment in our people, our facilities and our systems.”

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According to the accounts the directors of the business received £395,000 in salaries and pensions. The highest paid director received £167,000 in salary and pension payments.

RS Clare also paid out dividends of £8.8m to its parent company RS Clare Holdings. This reduced the equity in the business to £17.6m from £21.5m the year before.

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