Mountain Warehouse scaling new heights

The firm sells over 20 million items a year including jackets and fleeces. Picture: Ross Woodhall
The firm sells over 20 million items a year including jackets and fleeces. Picture: Ross Woodhall
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Outdoor goods and camping retailer Mountain Warehouse has bucked the high street gloom after reporting another record festive period.

The retailer, which has 340 stores in nine counties including more than 20 in Scotland, posted a 12 per cent leap in total sales to £84.7 million for the 13 weeks to 6 January. There was a surge in sales of socks, fleeces and gloves as conditions turned more wintery after a mild autumn.

The privately owned firm enjoyed a bumper Black Friday, with total sales up 20 per cent and online sales passing £1 million on a single day for the first time in its history.

Founder and chief executive Mark Neale said this puts the group on track for record full-year profits.

In a trading update, he said: He said: “The business is continuing to perform strongly despite the economic backdrop.

“We had a bumper Black Friday weekend with total sales up 20 per cent and online sales of over £1m for the first time in a single day.

“The prior year’s performance was exceptional due to the cold weather and widespread snow we saw in the run up to Christmas 2017. I’m therefore really pleased to report this record performance despite the unusually mild weather we experienced.

“This puts us well on course for another record year and as a result we are continuing to invest in more stores, new territories and our online business.”

He added: “We are also building our infrastructure with new customer service and distribution centres to make sure we keep delivering for the over ten million people who shop with us each year.”

Last year the retailer, which employs some 3,000 people, grew its overall sales by 22 per cent to £225.3m and booked earnings of £32.6m.

Mountain Warehouse served more than three million customers during the 13-week festive period, with bestsellers including more than 500,000 pairs of socks, almost a million fleeces, over 500,000 winter jackets and some 400,000 pairs of gloves.

The chain, which started with a single store in 1997, now has 340 in nine counties and plans to reach 400 over the next 18 months, creating 600 additional jobs. A second store has been opened in New Zealand, with up to six more in the pipeline for 2019.

Meanwhile, sister chain Neon Sheep expanded to ten stores with sales rocketing 550 per cent in the period.

The group also opened a new customer services centre in Coventry in November to support online growth.

Last year, Mountain Warehouse offloaded a 20 per cent stake to private equity outfit Inflexion, giving it an enterprise value of about £310m.

The retailer sells more than 20 million items a year from jackets and fleeces to rucksacks and sleeping bags.

Unlike many of its competitors, almost all of its stock is exclusive to Mountain Warehouse. The firm said that by designing its own products, and having them made to “exacting standards”, it ensures that customers get “top-quality products at very competitive prices”.

The firm has managed to shield customers from Brexit-induced price rises thanks to currency hedging and favourable prices from suppliers in China.