Mountain Warehouse has posted its 21st consecutive year of sales growth boosted by overseas expansion as boss Mark Neale plots a Neon Sheep bricks-and-mortar roll-out.

The outdoors specialist has posted a 36% leap in pre-tax profits to £26.6m in the year to February 25, driven by like-for-like and total sales growth of 14% and 22% respectively.

The retailer has opened 25 new stores and created 300 new jobs during the period in the UK and across nine countries overseas, including store launches in New Zealand and Holland.

Neale is planning to open 40 new stores in its current financial year and says “10 to 12” of these openings will be made by snapping up stores from retail CVAs, including up to five former New Look outlets.

Neale told Retail Week that the recent spate of retail CVAs was not representative of the health of the retail sector overall.

“A lot of businesses going through CVAs have got well-trailed issues that are potentially unique to the individual business and are not necessarily reflective of the overall retail market,” he said.

“There are possibly a few people jumping on the CVA bandwagon and trying to get one away now and get rid of some shops that aren’t very good because everybody else seems to be doing it. Trying to read into that – that that’s a reflection on the economy overall – is going a step too far.”

Neon Sheep

To this end, Neale plans to roll out his stationery and gifting retailer Neon Sheep, which was unveiled in November, to a further eight locations in the coming months.

Mountain Warehouse’s online sales rose 32% during the period and accounted for a quarter of overall sales, while its international sales increased 36% and accounted for 30% of total sales.

The retailer has also rolled out ranges from its sportswear sister retailer Zakti to its entire store estate in a bid to woo younger female shoppers.

“The big philosophy here is you can’t just put 2% like-for-like in your spreadsheet and assume it’s going to come on its own from some nebulous market growth figure,” said Neale.

“We have probably a dozen initiatives to drive like-for-like each year and none of them are depending on the market growing a bit, and that’s what makes a difference really.”

Neale said expanding Mountain Warehouse’s price propostion and weather-proofing its range were also key drivers of its sales growth during the period.

The outdoors specialist has 300 stores overall, roughly a third of which are overseas.