'I wouldn't say I'm a massive outdoors man' - Mark Neale, Mountain Warehouse

MY STYLE: The Mountain Warehouse boss takes us through some of his favourite things, including organising Glastonbury for dogs.

by Elizabeth Anderson
Last Updated: 15 May 2015

Work

I drive in to work from my home in St John's Wood for around nine, after I've taken my dog, Ray, a Shar Pei, for a walk round Regent's Park. My day is usually filled with a series of informal meetings about the latest products and new stores. We've got around 180 shops - mostly in the UK, although we have some in Poland and we're hoping to go into Germany soon as well. I hardly ever wear a suit, although I don't wear jeans. I would say my style is smart/casual.

I do wear shirts, but I don't really have a particular brand - I usually go to M&S or Banana Republic. I get lunch from Pret across the road from our office in Victoria. I occasionally have a business lunch - we're lucky to have the Boisdale next door, although it's hard to get in. I try to go out of London once a week to visit a shop - we've got a few in the Lake District and some in Devon and Cornwall I use the train journey as a chance to catch up on emails. I'm not an app lover, although I can't live without our own app, which tells us our sales for the day and how the business is doing. I also use the weather app, praying for rain - great for business.

Travel

I travel abroad every couple of months to visit potential sites in Poland or the Far East for sourcing - our stuff is made in China, India and Bangladesh. I fly with BA, business class, with my iPhone 5s, iPad and moisturiser, in our new Mountain Warehouse luggage range (20% off to MT readers). We holiday in the States a lot - my wife lived in New York before we got married, and my stepson is a New Yorker. Last year, we took my parents, my mother-in-law and the kids on a four-night train trip from Toronto to Vancouver.

There's no Wi-Fi or mobile reception, so you have to play boardgames and do jigsaws. When travelling for business, I usually stay in a Sheraton or Radisson. I have to be careful what I say in case my staff see this.

Personal

I wouldn't say I'm a massive outdoors man. Mountain Warehouse was my fourth attempt to set up a retail business, and I started with one shop in 1997. I owned a shop selling educational toys before that, then a greetings card store, and I once had a business selling roller blades. We sold a pair to Mick Jagger at our shop in Kingston. If I'm in London at the weekend, I'll take my 10-year-old daughter to the zoo, or to Regent's Park or into central London. When I have one of my fitness phases, I run round Regent's Park in the mornings. We've also got a house in Hagley, near Worcester, where we spend most weekends. We organised this huge dog-walking event earlier this year at Hever Castle in Kent.

Some 1,000 owners and their dogs turned up in aid of the Dogs Trust. It was like Glastonbury for dogs.

Inspirations

We collaborate with a charity in Bangladesh, Sreepur Village, set up 25 years ago by a British woman, Trisha Silvester, who used to be a BA flight attendant. On one of her trips into Dhaka, she decided to stay and help people. She set up this village where 200 women live, having been kicked out of their homes or abused by their husbands. She's sorted out housing and education for the kids. We support a programme to educate kids living on a railway line. We source from Bangladesh, so that's how we got involved. I've never had a mentor - I'm inspired by anyone who has set something up from scratch. I used to work with Peter Williams, co-founder of Jack Wills, whom I admire.

Mark Neale is offering 20% off to MT readers. Go to mountainwarehouse.com and enter MANAGEMENT at checkout.

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

Subscribe

Get your essential reading delivered. Subscribe to Management Today