Trekitt’s sales scale new heights as hikers and climbers lead outdoors escape

BUSINESS

The family firm, a renowned mountain rescue supporter, is run by second generation sons Mark and Paul Trepte. They have seen turnover rise by a third to £9 million this year as the business “sticks to the piste and always remembers to be better,” says Mark, Trekitt’s commercial director. Primarily an online retailer of quality clothing and equipment, its seven million website users, many drawn by a popular rewards scheme, are also getting younger. Over 10 percent now are in the 18 to 24 years age bracket and the proportion of women customers is growing as more brands offer specifically designed female ranges. 

While tents predictably are having a major moment this year, the retailer is known as an early adopter of specialist brands such as Darn Tough merino wool socks.  

There are some surprises too among the high-end hardware, for example Trekitt’s recent addition – a power banks and solar charging section – where comprehensive selection is proving gadget heaven for adventurers.  

How-to videos – for tying laces (so walking boots support ankles) and ensuring a backpack fits properly – are also going down a storm along with demand for more sustainable wear.  

One of Trekitt’s bestsellers is Rab’s classic Microlight jacket which has undergone an eco revamp this year with recycled fabric and down filling. Like backpack favourite Osprey, which also now works with recycled, PFC-free fabrics, it represents “the big players, the powerful changemakers all our industry needs and we welcome”, says Mark. 

And as Trekitt taps into the inner rambler it believes resides in most of us, the Treptes’ rock solid confidence in the future is for another good reason too.  

In a sector reliant on volumes and discounts and where takeovers are routine, over the past two decades the business has learned how to weather near fatal downturns and retain its individual ethos. 

Contending with foot-and-mouth, recessions and market collapse, the Treptes cut to the bone, but clung on to their independence and built back better. 

“Family relationships saw us through. We know how to survive and not  fear change,” says Paul.  

After Dick, their father and avid hill walker, opened the first Trekitt, a hobby shop beside the Brecon Beacons national park in 1986, it paved the way to 1990s good times when mountaineering moved from niche to mainstream. The business launched more stores and expanded into the surf market. 

When that bubble collapsed in the mid-Noughties, Trekitt hunkered down in one store in Hereford, then took a loan from Funding Circle and switched mainly to online. From there it’s moved mountains and today’s customers are from all over the UK as well as from Europe and the US.

“Back in 2008 the internet was seen as a place for cheap prices. Instead we have developed Trekitt online as a quality alternative, a highly knowledgeable source,” say the brothers.

“Over-trading is a real threat to small businesses as we found out the hard way. We’ve never posted a loss since 2006 and reinvest continually. 

“We’re all outdoor enthusiasts – and we stayed true to our strengths focussing on what we know best – technical, good quality, fit for purpose kit, and caring about our customers and our team.” 

They number 31 and Trekitt’s Hereford store has evolved into a “service centre” offering pre-booked consultations.   

Securing fiercely fought-over warehouse space recently means the business will be able to increase stock levels by 60 percent and keep to its target of a £12 million turnover by 2023.

“We’re seeing a sea change in behaviour as more people discover how good it is to be outdoors,” says Paul. “It doesn’t take much, just put on a jacket. We’re hopeful.”

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