Joules opens in Edinburgh and eyes expansion in Perth

British lifestyle brand Joules will this week throw open the doors to its largest UK shop, in Edinburgh city centre, as it considers taking up space at defunct department store McEwens of Perth.

The McEwens shop on Perths St John Street
The McEwens shop on Perths St John Street

The retailer, which successfully debuted on the Alternative Investment Market (Aim) earlier this year, is set to open larger premises in the capital’s George Street on Wednesday. At almost 3,500 square feet, the new store is more than three times the size of its existing Edinburgh outlet, bringing with it 16 additional jobs on top of the eight already employed.

Andrea Gray, director of retail at Joules, said the chain is in the midst of an expansion programme that has seen up to a dozen stores opening annually for the past several years.

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This includes upgrading to superior premises in existing locations, as is the case in Edinburgh, while also adding outlets in parts of the UK where Joules is “under-represented”.

“We are looking at Perth at the moment, but that deal is not concluded yet, so I don’t want to say we are definitely opening there,” Gray said.

Discussions are understood to be taking place about space at the B-listed site in Perth’s St John Street, where McEwens closed its doors earlier this summer with the loss of 110 jobs.

McEwens was forced into administration after 148 years of trading in Perth. Its closure was described by one local councillor as “a significant loss for Perth and the wider region”, and has prompted fears among neighbouring retailers that the site could be sold for housing, cementing a decline in footfall since McEwens’ departure.

Founded by Tom Joule in Leicester in 1989, Joules is known for it bright, country-inspired clothing. It trades across online, mail order and wholesale channels as well as from its 100 UK stores, and currently has four Scottish outlets, in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and St Andrews.

“We’re thrilled to be opening a new Joules stores in Edinburgh,” Joule said. “Given the continued positive response from our customers to our previous store, we’re really excited to be moving to a bigger location.”

The chain raised £77.5 million from its initial public offering in May, the bulk of which went to previous shareholders including its founder. Joules made £116.4m in sales during the year to the end of March, and enjoyed a 35.5 per cent leap in profits to £5m.

The upmarket retailer is headed by chief executive Colin Porter, who was promoted from managing director in September 2015. Joule focuses on creative control as the company’s chief brand officer.