Mountain Warehouse plans 40 new stores after profits jump

Mountain Warehouse has claimed that expanding its range had helped 'weatherproof' the outdoor clothing chain as it reported another strong rise in profits.

Profits at Mountain Warehouse grew 20% last year. Picture: Contributed

The group, which has 23 stores in Scotland, including Edinburgh and Fort William, notched up a 20 per cent rise in operating profits to £20 million for the year to 28 February as it prepares to open 40 new outlets this year.

Mountain Warehouse, which has been linked to a possible flotation, said like-for-like sales jumped 19.3 per cent, helping it post a 28.7 per cent rise in turnover to £141.4m.

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Its performance was driven by a 47 per cent jump in sales at the online division, and the successful launch of a children’s range designed with TV personality Steve Backshall. Its sister brand Zakti also racked up solid revenues.

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The firm, which employs 2,000 people across 240 stores globally, said it will open 20 more stores in the UK – including one in Oban – and 20 overseas this year, creating 400 jobs.

International sales now account for 20 per cent of turnover, with markets in Poland, Germany and North America.

Mountain Warehouse founder and chief executive Mark Neale said that there was scope for about 300 UK stores, adding that the business was now resilient to both the weather and a possible Brexit.

“There would have been a time when I was terrified by a hot and sunny day, but we’ve weatherproofed the business. We’ve expanded the product range so that we have products come sunshine, snow or hail,” Neale said.

On any Brexit, Neale said the business would be “fine either way”, but admitted that Mountain Warehouse could be hit by a plunge in sterling, which Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has flagged as a danger of any Leave vote victory.

“We would have currency issues as we depend on the strength of sterling to buy products, butwe are quite well hedged,” he added.

“We have bought up US dollars so the impact of currency fluctuations would be minimal in the short term.”

Earlier this year, Neale hired investment bank Rothschild to examine a possible stock market flotation, but said yesterday that the “chance of anything happening in the short term is very small”.

He said: “There’s no real need, we have enough cash to fund everything we want to do internally. We might want to do something at some point, nothing is ever off the table.”