Our History

We design, we test, we adapt.

We were born in New Zealand – a breathtaking country where isolation breeds innovation and the hunger to explore.

For 30 years, we have designed our gear to take on the rugged landscapes of our homeland and to outfit the adventurous spirit of our people.

With Kiwi ingenuity, and an open mind, we continuously adapt our gear to endure different weather conditions, diverse terrains, and the ever-changing needs of travellers. We act with people and the planet in mind – from the creative minds of our designers, to the careful hands of our suppliers, to the backs of our customers all around the world.

We believe that adventure begins when you pack your bag.

We are Kathmandu.

When we opened our first store in 1987, Kathmandu was a small specialist outdoor retailer, manufacturing many of our own products. We drew inspiration from our customers: people who saw themselves as travellers, not tourists; people who saw the outdoors as an invitation, rather than something to fear or conquer. We wanted to encourage our customers to get out and explore what the world has to offer – to Live the Dream – and designed products to give people the confidence to go anywhere in the world, whether they are intrepid explorers or backyard enthusiasts.

During the 1990s, our focus on design intensified: we became a leader in designing products that are original, sustainable, engineered and adaptive. We did this by asking questions every step of the way, and by trialling our gear in the most testing conditions in our own background in New Zealand and all over the world. Enthusiasm for our innovative products grew, as did our retail business, and we launched our Summit Club loyalty program in 1994.

By 2002, we were a vertically integrated retailer, and to this day, the majority of our sales are Kathmandu-branded products, using materials and designs sourced or specified by our talented in-house design team. We’re able to access quality products at a lower cost which, combined with our company-operated retail distribution network, help give our customers quality and value – as well as generate strong margins.

For New Zealanders and Australians, the OE (Overseas Experience) is a rite of passage, and in 2003/2004 Kathmandu had its own OE, commencing our UK initiative. In 2006, 19 years after its inception, Kathmandu was acquired by a consortium of private equity funds. It was a time of change, including the introduction of a new management team. Our core values stayed the same. We simply grew, and that growth provided us with new opportunities, including developing our team, minimising our environmental footprint and continuing to engage through our community initiatives – including partnerships with the Red Cross, Outward Bound New Zealand and the Australian Himalayan Foundation, among others.

We opened our online and mail order operations in 2008, and in 2009 Kathmandu was listed on the ASX and NZX. From 2009 our business platform – including staff, IT infrastructure and distribution capacity – has grown steadily.

In the last few years we’ve relocated our Melbourne support office, opened a new green star-rated office in Christchurch’s innovations precinct, a new five green star-rated distribution centre just outside Melbourne in Truganina and opened a state-of-the-art distribution facility in Christchurch.

And things are only getting better. Our team is busier than ever, continuing the work that began in 1987: designing and developing sustainable products, running a sustainable business and inspiring adventure.

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