Kathmandu, Rip Curl sales boosted by travellers, firming plans for global expansion

World News

Globetrotting holidaymakers are fuelling strong sales momentum at Rip Curl and Kathmandu operator KMD Brands, with the group’s boss bullish on expansion plans in Australia and overseas despite economic uncertainty.

The ASX-listed outdoor lifestyle outfit recorded a $NZ14 million ($13 million) profit for the six months to the end of January – a 352 per cent improvement on the same time last year, when pandemic interruptions led to the company recording a $NZ5.1 million loss.

KMD Brands boss Michael Daly said trading had still been strong in February.

Sales at outdoor clothing maker Kathmandu were up by 51.2 per cent to $NZ194 million, while wetsuit and surfwear brand Rip Curl grew by 18.8 per cent to $306.4 million.

Chief executive Michael Daly said that sales had continued to surge in February, and were up by 31.9 per cent across the group compared with last year.

The return of international travel and tourism is helping to lift the retailer, as holidaymakers in places like Hawaii and Queensland drop in to buy travel supplies, clothing and T-shirts and make last-minute purchases before they jump on a plane.

Daly said that while it’s hard to predict what will happen to spending confidence across the globe for the rest of this year, the company is well-positioned because it sells “products for a purpose”, and caters to shoppers who are still on a strong financial footing.

Rip Curl stores outside of Australia will continue to see strong demand, he said.

“With our stores being in places like Hawaii, Auckland CBD and the west coast of France, I’m not sure we’re selling necessarily to those that are going to really feel mortgage stress.”

Daly is also optimistic about expanding Kathmandu’s bricks-and-mortar reach further across Australia and around the world.

Three years on from pandemic disruptions, he says there’s more than enough room for the brand to roll out between 40 and 50 new stores in Australia in the coming years.

The Kathmandu puffer jacket is now available overseas.Credit:Kathmandu

“If you look at our penetration in New Zealand, [we have] nearly 50 stores for 4.5 million people. And we’ve only got just over 100 stores in Australia for 25 million people. So we think we are underrepresented relative to population and relative to other retailers,” he said.

And the iconic Kathmandu puffer jacket has set sail across the globe, after the brand made its first deliveries of stock to wholesale partners in Europe and Canada at the end of last year.

The business has a goal of reaching $NZ100 million in annual sales in international markets – a big jump on the $NZ1.7 million it has today.

Daly says the company is keen to open physical Kathmandu-branded stores overseas, but is still crunching the numbers before it decides where is the best place to set up shop.

“We’ll be very targeted. And when we have that data, we can make that decision. We can be a little more aggressive then and have a go,” he said.

KMD Brands declared an interim dividend of NZ3 cents per share, to be paid June 30.

Shares were flat at 94 cents just after 11.30am.

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