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Joules reports strong first half

UK lifestyle brand Joules has reported a strong first half to the 2016/17 financial year, with sales reaching £81.4 million. Double-digit growth was achieved across the board, demonstrating that its quirky British design aesthetic remains appealing to shoppers, both domestic and international.

First half gross margin increased by 101 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.

Retail revenue increased £7.7 million to £56.7 million, boosted by the addition of net 10 new stores in the 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 department store partner Dillard’s in the US.

With strong first half results, Joules looks set to continue this momentum in the second half, with its proposition hitting the mark throughout the Christmas gifting period where its retail sales were up 22.8 per cent. The appointment of a chief customer officer underlines Joules’ intent to focus on customer acquisition and loyalty – crucial given the tougher market conditions expected this 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 its price points via quality, design, style and service credentials, while emphasising its unique brand ethos to remain differentiated and top of mind.

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