Mountain Warehouse shows it’s not all gloom on the high street

Mountain Warehouse has delivered a positive update
Mountain Warehouse has delivered a positive update
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Mountain Warehouse​ insisted there is plenty of life on the high street following record sales over Christmas, despite recent gloomy updates from the likes of M&S, Next and Sports Direct.

The ​UK’s leading outdoor gear specialist, which has 17 stores in Yorkshire, said like-for-like sales leapt 15 per cent in the six weeks to January 3 despite the mild winter.

​Mountain Warehouse CEO Mark Neale said: “You can’t depend on the British weather to do what you think it ought to do.

“We’ve worked really hard to weather-proof the business. We’re not overly dependent on summer products in the summer and winter products in the winter.”

He said that the firm would have seen even better sales if the weather had been colder.

“Black Friday was very strong, but then the bulk of December was softer when the weather was milder. Black Friday is pulling sales into the last week of November,” he added.

​Black Friday and Cyber Monday​ ​combined to create ​the firm’s​ busiest ever four-day trading period with sales ​up 56​ per cent​ on the previous year.

The group has also benefited from its niche market position and its expansion into more expensive products.

“We now have more high end products. We are selling high quality jackets for £120. Previously our range would have topped at £50 to £60 so we’re attracting a different customer,” said Mr Neale.

The figures were boosted by a 49 per cent increase in online orders, but Mr Neale said the group’s high street stores were “significantly positive”.

“We have more than 75 towns where we’d like to open a shop, but we’re finding it difficult to find space. A lot of high streets are vibrant and quite difficult to get into.”

In Yorkshire, the group is focused on wealthier market towns and cities and has stores in Beverley, Ilkley, Northallerton, Ripon, Whitby, Harrogate, Scarborough and Skipton.

“We are close to signing on a shop in York city centre. It will be a very significant branch for us right in the middle of York,” said Mr Neale.

Overall sales rose 28.6 per cent in the six weeks to January 3.

Analyst Matthew McEachran at N+1 Singer said: “This is a great update from Mountain Warehouse given mild temperatures in December and given volatile high street footfall due to wild and wet weather.

“Customers have clearly voted with their wallets and this is testament to the strength of the assortment and great value for money.”

International sales leapt 92​ per cent and now account for more than 20​ per cent​ of the total. Growth was boosted by new stores in Poland and Germany and the launch of direct sales into China​.

The group also launched a sister brand called Zakti in November, selling female kit for running, cycling, skiing, swimming, yoga and the gym.

​Mr Neale said: “I’m pleased to say that we are firing on all cylinders in all our channels: our UK stores, online and internationally.”