British welly and raincoat brand Joules shines in tough retail market

Quintessentially British welly and raincoat brand Joules shines in tough retail market with double-digit sales rise

  • Joules said sales jumped 17% to £218million in the 12 months to the end of May 
  • The fashion firm expects profits to come in at the top end of forecasts 
  • Its online sales now account for half of the group’s total revenue 

Joules – best known for its floral wellies and polka dot rain coats – fashioned a double-digit sales rise in the last 12 months and said that profits were likely to be in the top end of market expectations.

Strong momentum overseas helped Joules shrug off the tough conditions irking its retail rivals at home and chalk up a 17 per cent jump in sales to £218million.

Standout: Joules has enjoyed strong momentum in its overseas markets – the US and Germany

‘This growth, achieved against the backdrop of a challenging sector trading environment, is testament to the strength of the Joules brand, the appeal of our products and the continued strong growth of our international business,’ the company said in a pre-close trading update.

Joules’ fast-growing international business in both the US and Germany now represents 16 per cent of the group’s overall sales.

It comes amid fears of more job losses and store closures in the UK as retailers suffered the steepest sales declines in May for 24 years, according to the latest BRC-KPMG figures. 

The company has nudged ahead of its fashion counterparts in recent years by focusing on delivering a ‘seamless’ customer experience across its 124 shops and online. Its e-commerce sales accounted for half of the total revenue in the year.

Joules was founded 30 years ago by Tom Joule and floated in 2016

Joules was founded 30 years ago by Tom Joule and floated in 2016

Thanks to a ‘robust gross margin performance’ and ‘disciplined cost management’, it said, the company expects full-year profits to come in at around £15million.

Shares ticked up by nearly 6 per cent in early trading on Thursday to £2.70.

Outgoing boss Colin Porter, who oversaw the company’s stock market float in 2016 said: ‘As Joules celebrates its 30th anniversary, this strong performance, particularly in our international markets and across our E-commerce and Licensing channels, reflects the strength of our distinctive brand as well as the appeal of our products across an ever-increasing range of lifestyle categories.

He added: ‘We continue to look forward with confidence despite well-documented sector headwinds.’

After a nine year tenure, Porter will soon hand the reins to former Asda and M&S director Nick Jones. 

Lifestyle brand Joules remains a consistent outperformer and is seemingly unaffected by the downturn in UK retail,’ said Emily Salter from GlobalData. 

‘Brand longevity can be a concern for lifestyle players, but these results are testament to Joules’ distinctive design handwriting that gives it an edge over its competitors, such as Fat Face which reported muted sales over the Christmas trading period, and Boden,’ she added. 

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