Sunday 24 January 2016 8:39 pm

Outdoor retailer Mountain Warehouse eyes £200m IPO after hiring Rothschild

Mountain Warehouse is eyeing a £200m stock market debut after hiring investment bank Rothschild to explore options for the business.

The outdoor clothing and equipment retailer was founded by former management consultant and Oxford physics graduate Mark Neale, who opened his first shop in Swindon in the late 1990s.

It now operates 191 stores in Britain and has also expanded internationally with 37 sites opened in Germany, Poland, the US and Canada over the last three years.

The retailer has had several private equity owners but in 2013 management regained full control, buying out the private-equity arm of Lloyds Banking Group for £85m. Neale owns around 85 per cent of the business, with the rest owned by other members of the management team.

Despite rival outdoor high street chains such as Blacks and Millets coming under pressure in recent years, Mountain Warehouse has thrived thanks to a surge in popularity of activities such as cycling and running.

Pre-tax profits rose by 31 per cent to £4.3m for the six months to the end of August, on sales of £59.3m. It also performed well over Christmas, with sales jumping by 28.6 per cent in the six weeks to 3 January.

International sales now account for 20 per cent of the business while its online arm, which ships to 100 countries, posted a 49 per cent increase in sales.

The group has ambitions to grow to 300 stores in the UK and a potential float would help fund its expansion as well as pay down debt.