Mountain Warehouse scours Yorkshire for new sites

Mountain Warehouse is to open 50 new stores this year and create 550 jobs after announcing record annual results.

Mountain Warehouse is bucking the gloom on the high streetand is keen to open more stores in Yorkshire

The outdoor specialist is bucking the gloom on the high street and is keen to open more stores in Yorkshire following the success of its 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 chief executive and founder Mark Neale said: "We are always on the look out for new stores in Yorkshire.

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"Yorkshire has always been good for us and we've been in Yorkshire almost since the very beginning.

"You've got the Yorkshire Dales on your doorstep and I think Yorkshire people appreciate value for money. You've got your fair share of great British weather as well."

When asked how Mountain Warehouse is managing to buck the downward trend of the high street, Mr Neale said: "We've got a relentless focus on value for money.

"We are constantly evolving our ranges to try and stay ahead of the customer and we're really careful about the shops that we open to make sure they're in vibrant, busy locations without paying too much rent."

The group recently opened a new gift chain called Neon Sheep.

Mr Neale said: "We hope to open one of those in Leeds city centre in the next couple of months, which will be our first Neon Sheep store in Yorkshire.

"It's a little bit different, it's fun, it's still value for money. It's giftware, homeware, stationery, clothing - lots of fun products at great prices."

Another 10 Neon Sheep branches are set to open this year, doubling the size of the chain.

Mr Neale said more people could be taking holidays in Britain since the EU referendum vote.

"Since the Brexit vote three years ago, we've nearly doubled the size of the business despite all the uncertainty and lack of clarity as to what's going on," he said.

"We're investing £15m in new shops this year."

Mountain Warehouse said pre-tax profit rose 14 per cent to £24m in the year to February 24 on the back of a 5 per cent rise in like-for-like sales. It marks the 22nd year in a row of unbroken sales growth for the business, which was founded in 1997.

Overall sales, including new stores, rose 13 per cent to £255m. The company opened 48 new stores in the period.

Mr Neale said that expansion has been helped by the number of retailers closing shops through company voluntary arrangements (CVAs)."Last year we got eight new shops on the back of the New Look CVA which was pretty helpful to us as they were in towns where we'd been trying to get a shop for long time," he said.

Last year Mountain Warehouse received an investment of £45m from Inflexion Private Equity Partners, which it said would help it to gain sharein the European outdoor clothing and equipment market.