• Pre-tax profits up 36%
  • Like-for-likes rise 19.3%
  • Retailer eying Austin Reed stores

Mountain Warehouse has reported rocketing annual profits and sales and is eying “a couple” of Austin Reed stores. 

The specialist retailer said that pre-tax profits rose 36% to £16m while EBITDA jumped 20% to £20m in the 12 months to February 28.

Like-for-likes were up by 19.3% and total sales rose 28.7% to £141.4m. Online sales rose by a huge 47% and now represent one fifth of all sales.

This is the fourth year in a row that profits and sales have increased by a record amount.

The group is eyeing a £200m IPO and has hired bankers Rothschild to explore options. 

Mountain Warehouse is also looking to acquire “a couple” of Austin Reed stores out of administration, according to the retailer’s founder and chief executive Mark Neale. Neale would not name the locations of the stores but said they were based in market towns.  

Austin Reed went into administration last month and is currently being circled by buyers including Mike Ashley of Sports Direct.

Mountain Warehouse opened 40 new stores, creating more than 400 jobs, over the period and plans to open another 40 over this period – half of them overseas.

The group has 45 international stores and 242 stores overall. International sales, in the US, Ireland and Germany, now account for 20% of revenue.

Weather-proof business

Neale said: “The past year has been a tough one for the UK retail sector and our performance vindicates the hard work we have done to ensure we give customers the right products at the right price both online and in store.

“We have worked very hard to weather-proof the business, ensuring that we have great products come sunshine or snow, hail or heat wave. This has certainly paid off in recent weeks when the weather has been very changeable.”

He added that this year’s trading remained “strong” and highlighted kids’ ranges as performing particularly well.

Children’s clothing sales grew 53% in the first 10 weeks of this year, aided by a new range created in conjunction with TV explorer Steve Backshall.

Neale said that he believed Mountain Warehouse’s focus on a family-friendly offering was part of the reason for its success in a tough market, adding that the experiential aspect of its product was also helpful.

“If you are going to climb Everest you don’t come to us but we have a very good value, family friendly offer,” he said. “It has been a big focus for us and has helped us. 

“Much of our product is functional. Our customers are not making a fashion purchase. Instead it is quite often products they need, and which link in with the experiential side of things.”