Outdoors retailer Mountain Warehouse has defied the gloom on the UK high street with soaring annual sales.
The retailer, which employs around 3,000 people, grew its sales by 22% in the year to February 25, up from £184.8 million to £225.3 million. This represented like-for-like sales growth of 14%.
Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation jumped 30.4% to £32.6 million.
Online sales now account for a quarter of Mountain Warehouse’s business, having climbed 32% year-on-year.
Mountain Warehouse’s founder and chief executive Mark Neale said the company was focusing on opening new stores in the year ahead. The retailer has opened 25 new stores over the past year, creating around 300 jobs.
“We are concentrating on opening more stores,” he said.
“We do not subscribe to this ‘death of the high street’ story. We’ve found it quite difficult to find empty stores in the places where we want to open.”
International markets remain a key part of Mountain Warehouse’s business, with sales from overseas growing 36.5% year-on-year.
The company has opened its first store in New Zealand and Mr Neale said it was looking to open two more later this year.
In the UK, Mountain Warehouse has been picking up stores from brands which have been shutting up shop.
New Look is undertaking a Company Voluntary Agreement (CVA) which involves the business shutting 60 outlets. Mountain Warehouse is picking up five of these stores.
“Some of those have been quite competitive,” Mr Neale said.
“We’ve been gazumped and we haven’t got all the shops we like out of that.”
Landlords ultimately take a hit if a CVA is approved because the process allows retailers to break their lease agreements to shut stores and slash rents.
The CVA process, which is supposed to be used as an insolvency procedure, has become controversial with landlords because they fear some businesses are using it when they are not in significant financial distress.
“It is quite a difficult area,” Mr Neale said. “Because of course, we would much prefer shops near us which are open and trading rather than empty.”