Mountain Warehouse earnings soared last year as its chief executive Mark Neale hailed the “massive benefits” of its international stores and looked to future expansion.

The outdoors specialist posted a 22% leap in pre-tax profits to £19.8m in the 12 months to the end of February, bolstered by a 16.5% rise in like-for-like sales.

Sales climbed 30.8% to £184.8m during the period, marking a 20th consecutive year of rising sales.

Mountain Warehouse’s international sales doubled and accounted for a quarter of revenue last year, while online sales also accounted for 25% of overall sales.

Store openings

The outdoors specialist opened 41 UK stores and had a 262-strong store estate by year-end, including nearly 70 international outlets.

The retailer also plans to open 40 new stores in the year ahead, approximately half of which will be overseas, creating 400 new jobs.

Mountain Warehouse aims to have 300 UK stores in total, and chief executive Mark Neale said its international estate could reach the same size in the long term.

“We are massively benefitting right now from the fact that 25% of our sales are outside the UK,” he said.

“We’ve obviously got the import price issues everyone’s got with the currency, but the fact that a quarter of our revenue is coming in other currencies is a big benefit and is to some extent mitigating the input cost challenges.

“If anything that makes us want to go faster to get a bigger share of the business internationally.”

Athletic expansion

Neale said the specialist retailer was “actively looking” for new stores in Germany and is mulling entering the Czech Republic.

The outdoors specialist also plans to expand its athleisure fascia Zakti, which it launched in 2015.

The retailer currently has four outlets and Neale said it plans to open ”at least two more” in the year ahead – including an outlet in Swindon, where Mountain Warehouse was founded.

”We’ve seen very strong growth from these stores and we’re very confident about the future, but we’re not trying to run before we can walk, said Neale.

“Mountain Warehouse is a retailer for people who have a pair of muddy walking boots at their back door and Zakti is a retailer for people who have a pair of trainers at their front door.

“We’re selling performance clothing with technical features at great value for both sets of customers.”