Mountain Warehouse bucks the high street gloom

Mountain Warehouse has reported record Christmas trading which it says “proves the doom-mongers predicting the death of the high street are wrong”.

Customers bought more than one million winter jackets

The firm, which is keen to open more stores in Yorkshire, said that if retailers have the right locations “customers will come”.

The outdoor clothing and equipment retailer reported a 16 per cent rise in sales to £96m in the 13 weeks to December 29, boosted by bumper online sales which rose more than 21 per cent.

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Like-for-like sales, which excludes new stores openings, rose between 5 and 6 per cent.

The firm's 2019/2020 ski wear range

Figures were boosted by a bumper Black Friday, the busiest day in the company’s history, with total sales reaching more than £2.5m.

Mountain Warehouse’s portfolio rose to nearly 400 stores around the world, with 50 more set to open this year.

The outdoor specialist is bucking the gloom on the high street and is keen to open more stores in Yorkshire following the success of three new stores in St James Retail Park in Sheffield, Thorpe Park in Leeds and Cortonwood Retail Park on the site of the former colliery near Rotherham.

The group’s founder and chief executive Mark Neale said: “I’m delighted to be reporting record Christmas trading for the 22nd year running, despite the snap election and some economic uncertainties around Brexit.

The groups sister gift and stationery chain Neon Sheep has expanded to 25 stores

“It demonstrates the success of our bricks and clicks strategy and proves the doom-mongers predicting the death of the high street are wrong.

“If you have the right locations customers will come and if you have the right products at the right price and also provide great service, they will part with their hard-earned money.”

He said the Christmas trading figures put the group on course for another record year.

“As a result, we are continuing to invest in more stores, new territories and our online business,” he said.

The group’s sister gift and stationery chain Neon Sheep expanded to 25 stores, including the opening of a Neon Sheep in Leeds – the first time the firm has had a store in central Leeds.

A further 10 or more Neon Sheep stores are due to open this year after Neon Sheep sales more than doubled to £3.2m.

Mr Neale said the business has a list of 50 towns where it wants to open a store, but cannot find one.

His remarks come after a torrid year for many British high street brands.

Debenhams and Mothercare both fell into administration in 2019, and other collapses included Bonmarche, Links of London, Forever 21, and Mamas & Papas.

Mr Neale said that failures in the high street have provided opportunities for businesses like Mountain Warehouse. The company has eight stores which used to be Woolworths and it snapped up New Look locations when stores were closed more recently.

“We’re always on the lookout for good shops, and, despite what you might read, good shops are still relatively hard to come by in many towns,” he said.

“But we, as much as anyone, need a vibrant high street with other retailers up and trading,” he added.

Three million customers bought 500,000 pairs of socks, more than one million winter jackets and a million winter hats, gloves and scarves, the company revealed.