Joules sees first-half triumph: stores, e-stores, US and Europe all grow
Joules Group continued its triumphal progress in its first half with the 26 weeks to November 26 seeing surging sales and profits as womenswear sold well and international markets grew.
Just look at the figures: group revenue up 18.2% to £96.2 million, profit (EBITDA) up 22.5% to £13.3 million, and pre-tax profit up 22.8% to £8.3 million. Any company that can grow its sales fast but its profits even faster is doing well at the moment in an environment where markdowns may have been driving sales but have been denting earnings.
The company said that retail revenues in the six months rose 16.2%. The even better news was that both the e-store and physical stores contributed to that with the former up 19.7% and the latter rising a healthy 14.2%. Wholesale surged too, rising 23%, or 20.6% currency-neutral, as the UK, Germany and the US all did well.
In fact, international revenue saw a 26.4% leap that means non-UK revenue now accounts for 11.3% of the group’s total.
The company is clearly winning new fans with its active customer base up 18% in the half to 1.09 million. And with its Christmas period sales rising 19.2%, Joules doesn’t look like its growth is slowing down just yet.
CEO Colin Porter said the brand is doing “very well” and should continue to do so as it expands further across channels, product categories and target markets.
He also said the group's H1 performance was driven by further rises across all product categories with a particularly strong season in the core womenswear category, where outerwear, dresses and tops all proved popular. Further expansion of accessories, footwear and kidswear also contributed.
Joules describes itself as a “premium lifestyle brand with an authentic British heritage”and that positioning seems to be helping overcome what’s an undeniably weak fashion retail sector in its domestic market.
Its marketing relentlessly pushes the joyful, traditional-meets-fashion, thinking that drives the look and feel of its women’s, men’s and kidswear (plus homewares, toiletries and eyewear). And it’s helping it to build a major business.
The company now operates 118 stores in the UK and Ireland and is available in 1,500 stores in the UK, US, Germany France and other European markets. Stockists include John Lewis, Next Label, Nordstrom and Dillards. In fact, Nordstrom has just increased product range listings in response to demand for the brand, and Dillards is launching womenswear for the SS18 season, following the launch of kidswear there in AW16.
And the firm is clearly hoping for faster growth in the US. In the period just ended it completed the transition of its US independent retailer accounts from its third-party distributor to the management of its own New York-based sales and marketing team. This will take full effect as SS18 orders are dispatched and gives it “greater control over the growth of the brand within North America.”
On the product front, as mentioned, womenswear continued to deliver with outerwear products “again resonating strongly with customers and performing very well.” It also added to its accessories and kidswear offer and saw good growth in footwear. It’s planning more range extensions and the recent activewear launch should be the first of many, all of them reflecting the overall Joules image. The activewear, for instance, features its signature hand-drawn prints inspired by the British countryside.
And on the licensing front, its various licenses are continuing to do well with the firm saying that it’s “very pleased with the early customer reaction” to the Joules-designed sofa range in partnership with furniture giant DFS.
Given that trading has continued strongly in January, the company also now expects profit for the full year to be slightly ahead of the range of analysts' expectations and says that while retail headwinds mean tough times generally, it’s well-positioned to weather the storm.
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