Pandemic spurs return to nature as Regatta Great Outdoors’ sales in Ireland up 47%

Outdoors brand also records sharp increase in profits in 12 months to end of January 2021

Brian Fox of Regatta Great Outdoors Ireland, at the retailer's Limerick outlet in the Arthurs Quay Shopping Centre. Photograph: Sean Curtin/Fusionshooters.

Brian Fox of Regatta Great Outdoors Ireland, at the retailer's Limerick outlet in the Arthurs Quay Shopping Centre. Photograph: Sean Curtin/Fusionshooters.

 

The pressures of lockdowns and the intermittent closure of large sections of the leisure economy last year appear to have spurred a major rise in outdoors activities, as retailer Regatta Great Outdoors Ireland posted a 47 per cent rise in its revenues to almost €27 million.

The UK-based retailer and wholesaler operates through about 25 outlets in the Irish market, as well as its concessions in Shaws department stores and seven Paco outlets. The rise in its sales translated into a corresponding spike in profits, up 57 per cent to €1.3 million for the 12 months to the end of January 2021. The company, which opened its first Irish concession in Wexford in 2004, had accumulated profits to date of €4.8 million at the year end.

Despite the increase in sales, staff numbers fell over the course of the year to 131 from 147. Regatta’s Irish workforce has almost trebled in the past seven years, however. The Irish operation’s executive director, Brian Fox, was headhunted by the UK brand to launch its wholesaling operation here in 2000, which initially was run from his garage in Cork.

In February, the month after the period captured by the accounts, the UK group said it was experiencing delays with deliveries to its Irish business due to new Brexit controls. It said the problem was “beginning to clear”, however.

Industry research from abroad suggests hiking and other outdoors activities has boomed since the arrival of Covid-19 last year. The Outdoor Foundation, part of a trade association in the US, estimates there was a 53 per cent increase in participation in outdoors activities such as hiking and climbing over the course of 2020.