Mountain Warehouse bursts £100m sales barrier

Mark Neale - Chief Executive of Mountain Warehouse. Picture: Harry Page
Mark Neale - Chief Executive of Mountain Warehouse. Picture: Harry Page
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FAST-growing Mountain Warehouse has passed the £100 million sales milestone partly driven by a rapid store-opening programme, the outdoor retailer revealed yesterday.

Unveiling a two-thirds jump in six-monthly pre-tax profits to £3.2 million from £1.9m, the firm said it had opened 19 stores in the period and a dozen more so far in its second trading half.

These include new Mountain Warehouse outlets – selling everything from beach shelters and ski jackets to thermals and wetsuits – in Inverness and Pitlochry, with the group targeting a UK branch network of 200 by this Christmas.

The new Scottish shops add to others north of the Border at the Aviemore ski resort and Fort William. Mark Neale, pictured, the founder and chief executive, has previously highlighted Scotland as an area for expansion, saying its colder weather and tourist locations make it ideal for products “to keep ­people warm and dry”.

The retailer’s sales jumped nearly 24 per cent to £47.5m in the six months to 24 August compared with the same period of 2013, which together with its turnover in the previous six months takes the sales through £100m on an annualised basis.

Stripping out new floorspace, underlying sales climbed nearly 12 per cent, while online sales surged 86 per cent. “It has been another hugely successful six months,” Neale said.

“Both our high street stores and online sales have performed very strongly, demonstrating that with the right multi-channel offer there is still plenty of life in the high street.

“2014 is looking to be a record-breaking year, and we plan to continue that growth next year, both in the UK and elsewhere.”

The firm said the stores opened in the first trading half created 200 jobs, while its products are now delivered to more than 100 countries ­overseas.

Retail analysts believe the company’s optimum presence in the UK is likely to be no more than 250 stores, and it is already upping the pace of international expansion, with three new outlets in Poland opened at Gdansk, Szczecin and Zakopane.

As in Scotland, Neale has said Poland was chosen as a good market for warm clothing and accessories because of its sometimes harsh winter weather and the popularity of outdoor pursuits. With another branch due to open in Lublin before Christmas, the total number in that country will be ten.

Neale, who founded the firm in 1997, owns 85 per cent of the shares after he and his management team bought out private equity partner Lloyds last October.

Despite a flurry of retailers launching flotations in the first half of 2014, Mountain has said it has no current plans for a public listing.

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