Mountain Warehouse is poised to accelerate its US expansion as boss Mark Neale bids to grow its overseas presence to “half of the business”.
Mountain Warehouse has been quietly opening stores in the US and Canada in a bid to boost its international business, which now accounts for around a fifth of its total sales.
The outdoor gear specialist now has 23 shops in North America, as well is two in Germany, 10 in Poland and three in Ireland, in addition to its 191 UK stores. It also trades on Chinese etail titan Alibaba’s Tmall platform.
But founder and boss Neale said he plans to double the retailer’s presence in the US and Germany in the next couple of years by launching 30 new stores across the two markets.
Neale, who is also eyeing a 300-store estate in the UK, told The Telegraph: “We wanted to do it a bit below the radar because we didn’t want to join the graveyard of British companies that go over there only to come running back.
“I think overseas sales will soon account for half of the business.”
As previously reported, Mountain Warehouse is mulling a £200m IPO and has hired investment banker Rothschild to advise on the process.
A launch on the stock exchange would provide a huge windfall of about £170m for Neale, who owns about 85% of the retailer. The remainder of the business is owned by about 20 senior managers.
It would also provide the retailer with the firepower to ramp up its fledgling overseas arm and pay down its £75m debt.
Mountain Warehouse has previously been owned by four different private equity firms including Icelandic buyout house KCAJ and Lloyd’s private equity arm LDC, but Neale re-acquired the retailer in 2013.
Neale added: “I wouldn’t mind if private equity contributed something more than just financial engineering. But it’s like that phrase – ‘as soon as they walk through the door they are looking for the exit’.”