Angling Direct: The company bucking the retail slump

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Angling Direct

Angling Direct has bucked the recent trend of poor figures from retailers by revealing bumper sales over the four months to November.

The fishing equipment retailer’s sales rose by 31.5% to £14.6m in the period, helped by a record Black Friday week when sales jumped 56% to £1.3m.

The Norfolk-based firm’s international sales arose by 98% in November, helped by its new German language website.

Earlier in December, rivals Fishing Republic went into administration.

Personal touch

The figures from Angling Direct are a ray of light in the retail industry after a disappointing year. Surveys have suggested that the number of people out shopping in the UK in November fell to its lowest level since the 2008 recession and, last weekend, retail experts Springboard estimated shopping numbers were 9% lower on Saturday than the same time a year earlier.

There are also signs that the sector’s problems have spread beyond the High Street. On Monday, online retail giant Asos sent shockwaves through the retail sector after it warned sales and profits were set to be lower than expected.

So why has Angling Direct been so successful in the current climate?

Chief executive Darren Bailey puts it down to the personal touch.

He told the BBC: “I believe this year has been particularly strong due to long-term relationships we build with our customers through our service offering, our loyalty scheme and the overall advice given to them.

“The Black Friday deal was simply one extra benefit to use Angling Direct. This year followed a very similar structure from the past couple of years.

“We aim to provide advice, recommendations and support both online and in store to ensure our customers enjoy their fishing.

Who are Angling Direct?

  • Martyn Page and William Hill started the company with a single shop in Wroxham, Norfolk in 1986
  • It sells more than 21,500 fishing tackle products ranging in price from £1 to nearly £4,000
  • It has 24 stores across the East of England and Midlands, with the most recent one opening in Peterborough in October
  • The company joined the London Stock Exchange with a £27.4m flotation in 2017

Angling Direct’s in-store like-for-like turnover increased by 7.2% to £4.96m and its online sales jumped by 24% in the four-months to November.

Mr Bailey said the retailer planned to grow its online business and open new stores.

“The aim is to open 10 new branches in 2019 and another 10 in 2020. Online we are rolling out multiple European websites to make our current offering more accessible to the continent.”

Shares in Angling Direct were up nearly 2% on Tuesday afternoon, giving the company a market value of £54m and putting it in range of some better-known retailers. Department store chain Debenhams has a market capitalisation of about £57m.

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