Sunderland outdoor clothing firm Berghaus expands overseas

Lea Crane, Climbing, Berghaus Brand shoot, Italian Dolomites.

Lea Crane, Climbing, Berghaus Brand shoot, Italian Dolomites.

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A WEARSIDE outdoor clothing firm is embarking on another overseas adventure.

Berghaus, based at the Sunderland Enterprise Park, has reported a growth in turnover on the back of strong overseas sales.

It has regional business units covering Europe, Asisa, the Middle East and Africa.

The company has opened a joint venture in the Nordic countries and started to trade in Russia for the first time.

It is also making inroads into South America, Australia and New Zealand, which are among eight markets it is opening up in 2013

However, annual losses widened to almost £7million, which the firm said reflected the tough climate facing many retailers in the UK.

Chief executive Richard Cotter said the retailer would be “finding it really tough” if it had not developed a strong international presence.

“The UK market has been very challenging and has clearly had an impact on our immediate turnover and profit, but that validates our drive to develop our international markets,” he said.

“Our underlying business is very robust, consumer demand for Berghaus is higher than ever.”

Berghaus, which is part of the Pentland group, reported sales of £56million in the year to the end of December 2011, up from £55.6million a year earlier, but operating losses grew from a loss of £400,000 to £6.9million during the same period.

The brand’s international sales jumped by 35 per cent, 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.

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 six per cent and the company was also faced with a “substantial bad debt write-off” when the Blacks Leisure Group went into administration last year.

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