ATOUGH year on the British high street for the outdoor clothing specialist Berghaus was offset by “phenomenal” growth in some international markets, its boss said yesterday.
Richard Cotter remained upbeat about the prospects for the Sunderland-based firm after turnover grew on the back of strong overseas sales.
However, annual losses widened significantly to almost £7m, which the firm said reflected the tough climate facing many retailers in the UK.
And the chief executive admitted that the retailer would be “finding it really tough” if it had not developed a strong international footprint.
Berghaus, which is part of the Pentland group, reported sales of £56m in the year to the end of December 2011, up from £55.6m a year earlier.
But operating losses grew from a loss of £400,000 to £6.9m during the same period.
The brand’s international sales jumped by 35%, with sales in the Asia-Pacific region almost doubling.
Berghaus is investing heavily to develop overseas markets as part of its long-term aim of becoming one of the world’s five biggest outdoor brands.
Cotter, Berghaus brand president, told The Journal last night: “The outdoor market is growing like you’ve never seen it. The outdoors is now the antidote to our modern lives.”
The business blamed a combination of its international investment and issues in the UK economy for last year’s widening losses.
UK sales dipped by 6% and the company was also faced with a “substantial bad debt write-off” when the Blacks Leisure Group of stores went into administration late last year.
Cotter said: “Berghaus continues to grow as a global brand. With the backing of our owner, the Pentland Group, we have invested in the people, product development and marketing that will allow this company to become one of the world’s leading outdoor brands.