Clothing brand Joules steps ahead with sales growth

Upmarket clothing brand Joules has brushed aside a 'challenging' retail market to cheer an 18 per cent surge in half-year sales as the brand expanded further in the UK and overseas.

Picture: Joules/PA Wire
Picture: Joules/PA Wire

The group, which has six outlets in Scotland, said revenues leapt to £96.2 million in the six months to 26 November from £81.4m a year earlier.

Retail sales rose 16.2 per cent as it added ten shops to take its UK and Ireland store estate to 118, while its wholesale revenues jumped 23 per cent thanks to ongoing take-up in target international markets.

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Chief executive Colin Porter, who took on the role in ­September 2015, said: “The Joules brand has performed well in the first half of FY18, delivering further expansion across markets, channels and product categories.

“The group’s performance reflects the growing appeal of the Joules brand amongst both new and existing customers across our target markets.

“We look forward with confidence to the second half of the financial year, underpinned by the strength of the Joules brand and our collections. Whilst trading conditions will remain challenging, we have seen good growth in our wholesale order book for Spring/Summer 18 and are well positioned for the Christmas trading period.”

Other retailers have flagged up a tough consumer outlook, with Carpetright the latest to warn over trading pressures as Britons rein in spending amid an income squeeze caused by Brexit-fuelled inflation. Additionally, data published recently by accountancy and advisory firm BDO revealed a 2.5 per cent year-on-year drop in fashion sales last month, amid “deepening cracks in consumer confidence”.

But Market Harborough-based Joules, which listed on London’s Alternative Investment Market last year, is pushing into overseas markets through its wholesale arm, with more than 1,500 stockists worldwide including Nordstrom and Dillards.

The group, noted for its “posh wellies” and founded by current chief brand officer Tom Joule in 1989, also has a significant online business.

Liberum analysts hailed an “outstanding” first half for Joules.

They said: “Led by a strong management team, Joules has a leading brand and benefits from a loyal and highly engaged customer base that is now over one million strong.”

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Joules’s Scottish branch ­network covers Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Perth, St Andrews, Glasgow and shopping centre Silverburn. Internationally it is available in the US and ­Germany, with a particular focus on these markets, as well as France and other European areas. It also says it will “continue to roll out retail stores in attractive locations where our customers are… We view our store portfolio as an integral part of a multi-channel offer to our customers.”

The firm in July unveiled its results for the year to 28 May, saying it was confident of another strong year after posting a one-third jump in underlying profits to £10.1m.

It bucked woes seen among rival fashion retailers with the 34 per cent hike, while revenues jumped 19 per cent to £157m with the firm flagging its “strong brand momentum” despite the uncertain economic backdrop.