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CEO of Angling Direct: We could open ‘30 to 40’ more stores


Retailer Angling Direct, which already has 42 stores across the UK, could open up another 30 to 40 more as the business seeks to become ‘eight or nine times’ larger than its nearest competitor.

The AIM-listed business is also looking to establish bricks and mortar outlets in Europe to complement its online operation.

Speaking in a podcast following the release of his company’s half-year figures, CEO Andy Torrance (pictured) said a difficult six months had done nothing to deter Angling Direct from its growth strategy.

The business remains focused on gaining market share in the UK and Europe and believes the current uncertain consumer environment can help it achieve that in a weakening competitive landscape.

“We are clearly finding trading difficult at the moment,” he said. “But if it’s tough for us, it’s a lot tougher for our competitors. We are looking at capturing greater market share and have numerous significant opportunities to grow in the UK.

“We currently have 12% to 14% market share in the UK, so there is plenty more to go for there.”

Torrance added that the bait and tackle market in the UK is highly fragmented and that independents do not have the balance sheet, distribution clout or product range that Angling Direct offers.

The company is ready to invest in new outlets and will look to buy smaller, troubled competitors to help grow share, although Torrance said there were no particular acquisition targets in the UK at the moment.

There are no plans to raise equity to finance M&A deals, which would be resourced from current cash-flow if necessary. “We have good relationships with reasonable businesses and should the time come along we can have the appropriate conversations,” said the CEO.

In Europe, the business is driven by online sales, which are up by 36.9% in the first half. However, the company is committed to an omni-channel presence in Europe. “We won’t be able to bring the full benefits of Angling Direct to customers in Europe until we are omni-channel, and that brings up the issue of developing a bricks and mortar presence on the ground, which brings up the question of M&A opportunities on the continent.”

A wholly owned Dutch subsidiary, which became operational earlier this year, acts as a distribution centre and has allowed the company to handle the problems posed by the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

Angling Direct dates back to 1986 when the founders purchased several Norfolk tackle shops. The chain has grown rapidly in the last ten years, listing on AIM in 2017.

See the company’s half-year figures here

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