Outdoor specialist Go Outdoors will decide whether to push the button on a float of the business early next year, after having ruled out a sale.
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Founder and managing director John Graham told Retail Week the board rejected a sale because it believes a flotation is the best way of helping it achieve its ambitious growth targets. The 27-store retailer, which appointed private equity tycoon John Lovering as chairman last year, plans to have a total of 50 stores by 2012.
Graham said: “We’ve got no plans to sell the business - only grow it. Floating is on our radar. We’re not big enough at the moment but we might be next year. We’ve looked into it and having John on board will help with the process.”
Go Outdoors will open 10 stores this year, with sites in Manchester, Stoke-on-Trent and York already agreed. It also plans to revamp its website to offer customers increased advice and guidance online and will be launching a mobile site imminently.
Graham also said the retailer was mulling the possibility of expanding into Europe, but added that any such move was not imminent.
The outdoor specialist revealed record sales of £114.9m in the year ending January 30, up 57% on last year. Like-for-like sales grew 10.6% in the year, while online sale soared by 45%. Graham said the sales uplift was partly due to the growing trend for thrifty holidaymakers staying in the UK instead of going abroad. He said the retailer’s broad range of product contributed to the sales boost and it plans to further widen the selection.
He said: “We want to be the place to go for all outdoor activities. Our range is only two-thirds complete. We want to branch into paragliding and sailing, for a start.”
Graham warned that 2011 would be tough, because increasing commodity and labour prices threaten to squeeze margins.
He said: “Cost is going to be more important [to consumers] this year. But the inflation in production costs is staggering and I can’t see it easing. We will potentially be working on tighter margins and in some areas we’ll have no option but to pass [the increases] on.”