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Mountain Warehouse CEO defends high street retail

The idea that it is “all doom and gloom” for high street retailers “doesn’t ring true” for Mountain Warehouse, its chief executive Mark Neale told Drapers today.

Speaking after the business announced an uplift in sales and pre-tax profits in the six months to 27 August, Neale stressed the importance of bricks-and-mortar retail.

“We’re very much a high street retailer; even though 25% of sales now come from online. The idea that the high street is dead and it is all doom and gloom doesn’t ring true for us. Mountain Warehouse is opening in market towns, touristy places, places near National Trust properties.”

Neale explained that this strategy, together with a focus on affordable product and international expansion, has helped the outdoor retailer to weather the difficult trading environment.

“We are at the value end of the market, which in the current climate is not a bad place to be,” he said. “Mountain Warehouse now has 80 shops in seven countries, which is important as it helps de-risk any one territory and is particularly helpful over the past 12 months when the pound has been so volatile.”

The chief executive, who founded Mountain Warehouse 20 years ago after spotting a gap in the market for accessible outdoorsy product, added that it expects sales over Black Friday and Cyber Monday to be significantly up on last year.

“We started working on Black Friday six months ago. There’s been some backlash from retailers saying it messes up the calendar and that they don’t want to do it, but the reality is the customer likes it and we are focused on what the customer wants, which is value for money and good product.

”If they want to come into Mountain Warehouse and spend money on Black Friday, then that’s a first world problem to have.”

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