After Covid almost caused its collapse, a high-street store has its busiest weekend ever.

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By Creative Media News

During the coldest week of the year in Britain, one man could be excused for wearing a smile.

Mark Neale, who started the first Mountain Warehouse in Swindon 25 years ago, is having a record-breaking week leading up to Christmas as fleeces, thermals, hats, gloves, socks, and ski jackets fly off the shelves.

Last weekend was the busiest weekend ever for the High Street shop.

This follows a record-breaking Black Friday at the end of the previous month when sales were 10 percent higher than the previous year.

After covid almost caused its collapse, a high-street store has its busiest weekend ever.
After covid almost caused its collapse, a high-street store has its busiest weekend ever.

After the World Cup match between England and the United States on Black Friday, which ended 0-0, the website received an order every second.

Mountain Warehouse sold 1,000,000 fleeces, 80,000 thermals, 50,000 ski coats, 100,000 padded jackets, and 250,000 hats, gloves, and socks during the week of Black Friday.

The increase extended the outdoor retailer’s post-pandemic rebound, which propelled it to new heights when it was on the verge of bankruptcy.

Despite continuous disruption from Covid, sales for the year ending in February increased by more than a quarter from the previous year to a record £302.6 million.

Covid almost caused its collapse
After covid almost caused its collapse, a high-street store has its busiest weekend ever.

Additionally, this number was 4.6% greater than pre-pandemic values. The business went from a profit of £7.9 million to a deficit of £164,000 for the year.

Over a cup of coffee at Mountain Warehouse’s offices in Victoria, London, Neale’s relief was evident.

The 54-year-empire old’s nearly collapsed when Covid struck. As the number of instances of the virus skyrocketed in March 2020, Mountain Warehouse decided to close its doors.

Neale left the facility in tears, describing the experience as “staring into an abyss.” He stated, “At that point, I had spent 23 years building this up, and I had no idea if we would return.”

However, the company was saved by “very helpful” government measures, such as furlough compensation and corporate rates reduction.

As households in lockdown shifted to outdoor activities such as hiking and open-water swimming, online sales recovered from their first shock.

And once pandemic limitations were lifted, it surged back to life, riding the staycation boom.

Camping equipment rushed off the shelves, and the business was booming.

The local representative’s purchase of a pair of walking shoes from Northallerton’s Mountain Warehouse in his Richmond seat in North Yorkshire during the 2019 election campaign caused no controversy.

Rishi Sunak was a relatively unknown man at the time, having just recently been promoted to Treasury secretary.

Even after Sunak’s ascent to the top of the political ladder, he is not Neale’s most renowned customer.

He counts Mick Jagger as his most prominent client.

Before founding Mountain Warehouse, Neale founded the Route One rollerblade store. Neale stated that the Rolling Stones frontman lived with Jerry Hall in Richmond, Surrey, and “one day just came into the business and got some.”

You would take a selfie today, wouldn’t you? he stated.

Neale sold the five-store chain to a buddy before moving on to his next endeavor.

“It was just hopeless,” he said of an educational toys manufacturer forced out of business by retailers such as Tesco and Woolworths. Then he tried his hand at greeting cards, which he described as “all right, but not particularly successful.”

Neale “stumbled” into outdoor goods after a string of failures, and Mountain Warehouse was formed. Its inexpensive basic equipment rushed off the shelves, paving the way for a multitude of business openings.

The company stood out in a market for outerwear dominated by North Face and Columbia, whose advertising frequently portrayed hikers with ice axes conquering mountains.

However, Mountain Warehouse’s concentration was not on the peak of the mountain. Neale stated, “Our clients are interested in affordability and a product that would keep them dry while walking the dog.”

Neale’s approach was appropriate and demonstrated an entrepreneurial “try and try again” mentality.

Before the pandemic, Mountain Warehouse’s sales and profits increased for more than 20 consecutive years.

Neale stated, “Ten to fifteen years ago when I met someone, they would ask, “What do you do?”

I would say that I own Mountain Warehouse, which is similar to Millets.

Five years ago, when I would have the same conversation, people would respond, “Oh, I recognize Mountain Warehouse.”

‘Then it shifted one more; roughly three years ago, people went from knowing what Mountain Warehouse was to declaring their enthusiasm for it.

It was an incredible journey.

Neale was born in the historic steel-making town of Ebbw Vale in South Wales and raised in the neighboring town of Abergavenny. He attended the elite Monmouth School for Boys before enrolling at Oxford University.

He studied with Boris Johnson and Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, and barely graduated with a degree in physics.

However, he was not the first successful shopkeeper in his family; one of his great-grandfathers owned a store in Tredegar, Blaenau Gwent.

His wife Michelle Feeney had served as chief executive officer of the tanning firm St. Tropez, but she has now moved into the luxury perfume industry, launching Floral Street in 2017.

The daughter of Neale, who recently began studying geography at Edinburgh University, has been taking advantage of Mountain Warehouse’s friends and family discount to stock up on course materials.

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