Belfast Telegraph

'Weather proofed' Mountain Warehouse profits climb 20% to £20m

Outdoor retailer Mountain Warehouse has notched up a 20% rise in operating profit to £20 million for the year, as the firm prepares to open 40 new stores.

The company said like-for-like sales rocketed 19.3% over the period, helping it post turnover of £141.4 million, a 28.7% increase on the previous year.

Its performance was driven by sales at its online division, which rose 47%, and the successful launch of a children's range designed with TV personality Steve Backshall. Its sister brand Zakti also racked up solid sales.

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

Speaking to the Press Association, Mountain Warehouse founder and chief executive Mark Neale said that there is scope for around 300 stores in the UK, adding that the business is now both "weather proof" and Brexit proof.

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

On Brexit, he added that the company 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 and others have warned would be an implication of leaving the EU.

"We would have currency issues as we depend on the strength of sterling to buy products, but having said that we are quite well hedged. We have bought up US dollars so the impact of currency fluctuations would be minimal in the short term. But people are still going to be buying outdoor gear in five years, in or out."

Earlier this year, the business hired investment bank Rothschild to examine the possibility of a stock market flotation that would potentially value the firm at £200 million.

However, Mr Neale said 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."

Mountain Warehouse is expanding rapidly internationally, with global sales accounting for 20% of the total turnover. It already has a presence in North America, Germany and Poland and will look to grow in the coming year.