Angling Direct hails record sales catch, despite losses after heavy investment

Fishing retailer Angling Direct has revealed it swung to an annual loss after investing in new stores and online, but cheered record sales after a “transformational” year.

Britain’s largest fishing tackle retailer posted a £266 million pre-tax loss for the year to January 31 against profits of £159 million the previous year after so-called administrative expenses of £11.2 million.

The group added another three shops to its network over the financial year through acquisition and openings, while it also upgraded its websites in the UK and across Europe, helping online sales surge by 30% to £22.3 million.

It notched up record overall sales of £42 million, up 39% year-on-year, with like-for-like sales up 6.2%.

The group said sales growth has rocketed since the year-end, up 28.5% on a like-for-like basis in the first two months and ahead 50.7% overall.

Angling Direct has been helped by its main rival, Fishing Republic, collapsing into administration in December after it failed to raise emergency funding.

Martyn Page, executive chairman of Angling Direct, said: “It has been a transformational year for Angling Direct, achieving record sales across the store network and online.”

He added: “As the UK market consolidates, we are seeing a corresponding increase on our margins as the level of discounting from competitors decreases.

“Coupled with this are encouraging customer habits with increasing numbers of returning customers both in-store and online.”

The group has already opened another three stores since the year-end – taking the network to 27 – and it plans to add another 10 in total over the new financial year.

It recently opened its first fishing tackle “destination store” in Nottingham, which is located in a popular fishing area with strong angling communities near the River Trent.

It marks part of an expansion drive that will see 20 new locations open this year and next as the firm bucks the gloom on the high street.

Mr Page said the European market is also a “key focus” for the group in 2019, via its websites.

Angling Direct saw its international sales jump by 112% as it exported to more than 48 countries, helped by investment in its overseas websites and the launch of German, French and Benelux sites.

Mr Page said: “The European market is highly fragmented with limited competition online.

“We expect to increase our market share through targeted marketing campaigns, unrivalled customer experience and carefully considered M&A opportunities.”

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