• New stores opening every week until Christmas, creating hundreds of jobs
  • Up to 50 more planned next year, including first shops in Australia
  • Record revenues as business bounces back into the black
  • Busiest Black Friday weekend ever with sales of more than £10m

Mountain Warehouse, the outdoor clothing company, is stepping up the pace of new store openings after seeing sales hit an all-time high.

The company, which has 370 shops in eight countries, is opening a new branch every week in the run-up to Christmas. That is on top of 35 new shops last year, and it is planning for 50 more next year, having seen shoppers flock back to the High Street.

The group has also put the dark days of the pandemic behind it by bouncing back into the black. Revenue reached £371m, up 22.6 percent, in the 12 months to the end of February 2023, the highest in the company’s 26-year history but, it made a small £1.5m loss due to soaring freight and energy costs.

It has rebounded strongly since then, with record H1 sales of £171m in the six months to the end of August 2023 and underlying profits of £6.7m. It was helped by the wash-out summer, selling 350,000 waterproof jackets in July and August alone.

It is a remarkable recovery for a business which was fighting for survival when the pandemic forced it to close all its stores and furlough its 3,500 workers.

Founder Mark Neale said: “During Covid there was a belief that nobody was ever going to go to a store again, and their days were numbered, but that’s proved to be completely wide of the mark. Whilst our online business had a big boost during the pandemic and continues to go from strength to strength, our stores have bounced back with gusto showing that customers want to shop both channels.

We are having our busiest Black Friday weekend ever, with sales of more than £10m and more than a million people visiting our stores.

The current cold snap may not be to everyone’s liking, but if you need outdoor clothing to keep you warm and dry this winter Mountain Warehouse has some great products at fantastic prices both in store and online.”

The business, started with a single store in Swindon in December 1997, has already opened new shops in Hereford, Lancaster, Cromer, Gloucester, Exeter, Bedford, Bristol, Northallerton, Cwmbran, and London’s Covent Garden this year, as well as one in Warsaw, Poland and two each in Canada and New Zealand. The new Norwich branch, which opened last month in the former Top Shop, was the company’s most successful new store opening ever.

Two new stores opened last week, in Newark and Swindon, and the others due to open between now and Christmas include branches in Lincoln, Hexham, and Stratford upon Avon, as well as three more overseas. The new Swindon store is a stone’s throw from the very first Mountain Warehouse, opened in 1997, but is six times the size.

The store openings will have created around 350 jobs this year, on top of a similar number last year and the group now employs more than 3,500 people.

Mountain Warehouse has also been opening some much larger stores, including some on retail parks. As well as former branches of Top Shop they are also negotiating to take over some ex-Wilko branches.

The larger outlets are enabling them to stock a much wider product range, some of which was developed for the online business during the pandemic. It is also allowing scope to include sections devoted to ski wear and to showcase the Animal lifestyle brand, which Mountain Warehouse acquired two years ago. The revival has proved so successful that the group has recently opened three stand-alone Animal shops in Padstow and Bude in Cornwall and in Abersoch in north Wales.

“It has helped us weatherproof the business,” said Neale.

“That’s something we have taken big strides forward with in recent years, so that we have a strong business all year around. Acquiring Animal was another step on that journey and has helped us reach some new customers. The Animal brand is well loved and we’re reinventing it for a new generation with sustainability at its core.”

 

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May 2024 issue

2024 A1 Buyers Guide