Outdoor equipment company Kathmandu is considering a launch into the United States after its purchase of North American retailer Oboz Footwear.

At its half-year results today, the company announced its acquisition of the brand for US$60 million ($83m) in cash and the potential earn up to US$15m.

For the six months to January 31, the company reported profit of $12.3m, up 23 per cent on the same period last year.

First-half sales rose 4.3 per cent to $204.8 million, in line with the company's forecast.


Wholesaler Oboz had been selling through Kathmandu for 10 years, and chief executive Xavier Simonet said the team had significant knowledge of the outdoor industry and the US market that Kathmandu could tap into.

"We've been looking at the US market for some time, and when you look at the customers and retailers Oboz have in the US, it's a dream distribution for us," Simonet said.

"If we could work with the Oboz customers in the US and launch Kathmandu with them, that would be brilliant because they're core authentic outdoor retailers and we can tap into that knowledge for sure."

Simonet said the acquisition would help accelerate the company's international growth as well as helping Kathmandu to diversify its risk profile, adding that the two brands were complementary.

Oboz doesn't operate bricks and mortar stores in the US, but Simonet said launching a combined store selling the two brands was an option.

In 2015 Kathmandu closed its network of British stores which were underperforming, opting instead for an online and wholesale model which was lighter on capital and expenditure.

A focus on managing its inventory and taking a more cautious approach to stock levels had also helped the company shift away from needing to discount heavily to shift excess stock.

In the latest period, the gross margin increased to 63.3 per cent from 61.6 per cent in the same period a year earlier as more product was sold at full-price and higher average selling prices, the company said, adding that February margins were also ahead of last year.

Kathmandu said clearance inventory levels at the start of the financial year were about 40 per cent below the year earlier.

"While this impacted clearance sales performance, particularly in the first quarter in New Zealand, there were benefits to both gross margin and inventory handling costs," Kathmandu said.

"By the end of the first half, the reset clearance stock levels were more in line with last year."

The retailer valued inventory at $84.2m at the end of the first half, compared with $96.4m a year earlier.

Kathmandu will pay a first-half dividend of 4 cents per share on June 22, unchanged from the year-earlier period.

The company plans to raise $40m, selling 18.5 million new shares at $2.16 apiece to institutional and sophisticated investors in Australia, New Zealand and some other countries, it said.

The purchase price is a 10 per cent discount to the company's $2.40 closing share price yesterday.

It also intends to raise as much as $10m selling shares to eligible retail shareholders in Australia and New Zealand for the same $2.16 share price as institutional investors.

The shares, which have gained 24 per cent over the past year, are halted from trading until tomorrow due to the share placement.

Kathmandu noted that it has secured A$90m of funding from Commonwealth Bank of Australia and $90m from Bank of New Zealand, as part of its multi-option facilities agreements.

- additional reporting BusinessDesk