Mountain Warehouse eyes store expansion as profits jump

Sebastian McCarthy
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Mountain Warehouse said demand for womenswear has grown twice as fast as the rest of the business

Outdoor clothing group Mountain Warehouse is eyeing an expansion on the high street this year after reporting today a double-digit rise in annual pre-tax profits and sales.

The retailer, which currently runs 350 stores and employs 3,500 staff, is planning to open a further 50 stores this year, including roughly 20 in the UK, following its 22nd year of unbroken sales growth.

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The figures

Pre-tax profits rose 14 per cent to £23.7m in the 12 months to 24 February this year.

Sales rose 13 per cent to £255m, marking the group’s 22nd year of unbroken sales growth.

Online sales rose 23 per cent, accounting for around a quarter of total sales, while international sales jumped 20 per cent.

Like-for-like sales climbed 5.3 per cent.

Over the course of the 12 months to 24 February, the group opened 48 new stores across the UK, Europe, North America and New Zealand.

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Why it’s interesting

Few retailers can boast 22 years of consecutive revenue growth – but Mountain Warehouse is one of them. The chain has established itself as the leading outdoor value brand for all things hiking, camping, cycling and skiing under the leadership of Mark Neale, the Oxford-educated physics graduate who set up the firm’s first outlet in Swindon just over two decades ago. Since then it has grown into a fast-growing chain with a global footprint.

But what is perhaps most eye-catching about today’s results is not so much what it confirms about the previous 12 months – a pattern of growth that the group has enjoyed for a while – but what it suggests about the 12 months ahead.

Mountain Warehouse has been eyeing a bullish expansion plan that will see it open a further 50 stores by the end of this year, striking an upbeat tone in spite of the recent retail headlines focused on the mounting tally of Company Voluntary Arrangements (CVA) and industry closures.

Challenges from rising property costs and online competition are not likely to fade anytime soon, but much like its high street fashion peers Primark and Ted Baker, Mountain Warehouse has shown that the rise of the internet does not mean the collapse of the high street.

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What Mountain Warehouse said

Founder and chief executive Mark Neale said: "I’m delighted to have delivered another set of record results, despite the obvious headwinds. It’s no secret that many retailers are finding it tough going, but our relentless focus on value – great outdoor gear for all the family at great prices - continues to hit the mark. The results also owe much to the terrific efforts of our 3,500 people and the work that we continue doing to diversify and weather-proof the business."

This year we have more than doubled the size of our women’s summer range. As a result, we expect to sell over 100,000 summer dresses, over 500,000 tops and T shirts, and 100,000 pieces of women’s swimwear. It means our sales of womenswear are growing twice as fast as the overall business and I no longer need to lose sleep if the sun is shining."