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Norwich-based fishing tackle retailer reels in record results after stock market float

PUBLISHED: 10:49 14 May 2018 | UPDATED: 14:44 14 May 2018

Angling Direct joined the London Stock Exchange in July 2017. Picture: London Stock Exchange

Angling Direct joined the London Stock Exchange in July 2017. Picture: London Stock Exchange

London Stock Exchange

The UK's largest fishing tackle retailer has hailed a "transformational year" in its first set of results since making a splash on the stock market.

Angling Direct's warehouse at the Rackheath distribution centre. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYAngling Direct's warehouse at the Rackheath distribution centre. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Norwich-based Angling Direct saw turnover increase by 44% – slightly ahead of expectations – to £30.2m in the year to January 31 2018 while pre-tax profit was up 27% to £0.9m.

Good performance in online sales – up 54% year-on-year through its own and third party sites, with best-in-sector site traffic of more than one million visits a month – has led the company to upgrade its revenue forecasts for the 2018/19 financial year.

Since floating on the London Stock Exchange in July 2017 it has raised £7.5m in gross proceeds, while its stock price has grown by 50% from 67p to 104p.

Martyn Page, executive chairman of Angling Direct, said: “It has been a transformational year for Angling Direct, with the company’s admission to AIM and the completion of a number of acquisitions and new store openings.”

Angling Direct executive chairman, Martyn Page, right, and chief executive Darren Bailey, at their Rackheath distribution centre. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYAngling Direct executive chairman, Martyn Page, right, and chief executive Darren Bailey, at their Rackheath distribution centre. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Store revenues increased 40% year-on-year to £13.2m in the year, with like-for-like growth of 9%.

The year saw it acquire fishing tackle retailer Fosters of Birmingham for £3m and the North West Angling Centre near Wigan and Tacklesaver near Manchester in a £450,000 deal. It also opened three new stores in Swindon, Slough and Stoke, bringing its total to 21, including in Norwich, Wroxham, Beccles, Colchester and Chelmsford.

Three more openings are planned for the 2018/19 financial year, while it said it is also considering several “compelling” M&A opportunities to boost its 7% market share.

Mr Page said the company will continue building on its strategy to consolidate a “highly fragmented market”.

He added that the company had seen a “good start” to the 2018/19 year despite “adverse weather” for fishing, with year-on-year revenues up in the first quarter and an 11% increase in average transaction value.

In a statement released with its full year results the company said: “A well progressed pipeline of new store openings, coupled with sustained investment in ecommerce infrastructure and robust like-for-like store sales growth, continues to position the group well for increased market consolidation.”

Angling Direct chief executive Darren Bailey said East Anglia would remain crucial in the company’s growth plans, with the board committed to keeping its headquarters in Rackheath and potential to open new stores in Suffolk.

“Angling Direct originated in the Broads and it evolved from that into what it is now. East Anglia is a big fishing area so it will always be important to us that we have a presence here.”

He defied notions that it was “all doom and gloom” on the high street, saying that for lifestyle products there would always be a call for bricks-and-mortar stores.

“There are probably about 25 to 30 additional locations in the country that can accommodation fishing tackle shops and that is not even talking about what we could do overseas,” he said.

European expansion is already underway for the company, with a German website launched earlier this month and plans for similar sites in France and Spain.

Looking ahead to 2020 Angling Direct hopes to have reached turnover of £46.9m, driven by continued new store openings and greater contributions from domestic and international online sales.

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