Mountain Warehouse achieves record sales in its silver jubilee year
Mountain Warehouse, the outdoor apparel retailer, has revealed record sales of £302.6 million in its 25th year of business and says it had its busiest Back Friday ever, racking up sales of £3 million in one day alone.
In the year to end of February 2022 the the business said revenue broke through the £300 million mark for the first time in its history. That was up 26% on the prior year and 4.6% higher than 2019/20, before any impact from COVID-19.
The impact of the pandemic was reflected in its profits with operating profit at £11 million and a small pre-tax loss of £102,000 due to the impact of lockdowns during the financial year, as well as higher freight costs and the investment in a new distribution centre.
Mountain Warehouse said the results represented a "remarkable recovery for a business which was fighting for survival when the pandemic forced it to close all its UK stores and furlough its 3,500 workers".
Founder Mark Neale said: “At the start of the pandemic we were standing on a cliff edge staring into the abyss. All our shops were shut, our people were furloughed, and we were in a perilous position.
“Two years on, and we have recorded record sales of more than £300m for the first time and trading strongly. There are still some strong headwinds from freight costs, supply chain headaches, energy costs and rising inflation. But we are growing again – relocating stores and selectively opening new ones and investing in our online business."
The recent wintry weather has also boosted sales but the overall improved sales performance was attributed to Mountain Warehouse doubling its online inventory to 30,000 products, with e-commerce up 63% on pre-Covid levels. It also benefited from 'staycation' holidays with strong demand for items such as hiking boots, wetsuits and camping equipment.
Last year Mountain Warehouse acquired beachwear brand Animal and launched an online marketplace now selling more than 100 brands such as Under Armour, Crocs and Havaianas. It has also recently opened several larger, out-of-town stores to showcase its expanding product range, including Colchester, Essex; Rugby, Warwickshire; and Solihull, West Midlands in the UK and Auckland in New Zealand and is on the look-out for new locations.
“We opened our biggest store ever in Bournemouth 10 days ago, with a dedicated area for the Animal brand, and it has got off to a flying start,” said Neale.
“If we can find the right stores in the right locations, we will open in new towns. We recently opened in Petersfield, Hampshire in a former Laura Ashley store. It is our fifth branch in former Laura Ashley stores. We have also opened five or six ex-Topshop stores such as Bournemouth; Fareham, Hampshire; the Isle of Mann and Merthyr Tydfil, in Wales.”
During Black Friday the business achieved £3 million in sales in one day alone, up 10% on last year, and sold more than 100,000 fleeces and 50,000 ski jackets. The current cold snap drove its busiest ever weekend in stores last weekend with 250,000 hats, gloves, socks and scarves sold, up 60% on the same week last year. Sales of padded jackets were up 32%, thermals 125% and snow boots a massive 146%.
Mountain Warehouse began as a single store in Swindon 25 years ago and now has more than 350 stores and 3,500 staff. It sells more than 25 million items a year from jackets and fleeces to rucksacks and sleeping bags.
In July 2018, Inflexion Private Equity Partners LLP, through its specialist minority fund Inflexion Partnership Capital, invested £45m in the business in return for a minority stake.