Fishing Republic, one of the largest fishing tackle retailers in the UK, reported a 64 per cent leap in revenue as it cashes in on the increasing popularity of fishing, driven by programmes such as ITV’s The Big Fish Off.
The Rotherham-based firm is rapidly expanding and this hit the bottom line, with half year profits of £160,000 last year falling into a pre-tax loss of £120,000. The group said the fall reflects accelerated investment in stores and online initiatives.
The group opened five stores in the first half as part of its plans to become a nationwide retailer.
The group's CEO Steve Gross said: “I am delighted with the progress we have made so far this year. We have continued with the expansion of our ‘destination’ store network, opening five new stores in the period with a further two opened in August.
"Our estate now stands at 19 stores and covers new geographic regions, including South East Midlands and East Anglia, which will also help to support our online strategy."
He said like-for-like sales rose by an impressive 21 per cent and he attributed this to better marketing for the group's stores.
"Fishing Republic as a brand is becoming better known," he said.
"The market is growing, although not at the same rate as we're growing. Carp fishing has become in vogue. At any one time carp fishermen can have three rods in the water."
The group has also been boosted by ITV's fishing programmes. The Big Fish Off is based on The Big Bake Off and a new programme called Monster Carp has also boosted the market.
The group is expected to return to profit in the full year.
"The stores take seven years to get to full maturity," said Mr Gross, pointing out that it will take some time for the new stores to make their full contribution.
The group's own website sales shot up 140 per cent as it invests in online retailing.
“Online sales are a key focus and we continue to transition away from third party platforms to our own websites, particularly www.fishingrepublic.net," said Mr Gross.
"Sales via our own sites grew by 140 per cent and we are supporting them with significant new investment in our site functionality and services. The average customer basket value on our own site was £70.59, compared to £14.54 average basket generated by third party marketplaces.
“We remain excited about the opportunity for consolidation, given the fragmented nature of the sector, and continue to consider complementary acquisitions, as well as organic growth opportunities.
“We look forward to a second half of continuing strong progress.”