British lifestyle retailer Joules has reported a strong first half year, with sales reaching £81.4 million and growth in double digits across the board.
The figures prove its quirky British design aesthetic remains appealing to shoppers – both domestic and international.
First half gross margin is expected to increase by about 100 basis points compared to last year due to a higher full price mix of sales as well as improved distribution efficiencies. While unseasonal weather has plagued the high street, Joules has proved resilient due to its broad offer and relevant transitional ranges.
Founded by Tom Joules in 1989, the brand sells clothing, footwear, accessories and home products inspired by British country lifestyles in more than 100 stores across the UK and Europe and through other retailers in the US.
Retail revenue increased £7.7 million to £56.7 million, boosted by the addition of net 10 new stores in the first half, taking its portfolio to 107 stores. Online sales have been bolstered by ongoing investment in its eCommerce platform. Wholesale also performed well due to strong orders for its autumn/winter collection across all markets. Joules continues to broaden its reach internationally, especially in the US and in Germany, via new product categories including the launch of childrenswear with new department store partner Dillard’s in the US.
With strong first half results, Joules looks set to continue this momentum in the second half year, with its proposition expected to hit the mark among Christmas gift shoppers. The appointment of a chief customer officer signals Joules’ intent to focus on customer acquisition and loyalty – crucial given the tougher market conditions expected next year, with consumers making more considered purchases as disposable incomes become more restricted. Given its upper midmarket to premium positioning, Joules will need to justify price points via quality, design, style and service credentials, while emphasising its unique brand ethos to remain differentiated and top of mind.
- Kate Ormrod is a senior analyst with Verdict Retail.